What I find amazing in the New Testament is that the one thing that the disciples asked Jesus to teach them was to pray. Out of all the things they could have asked for, they wanted to know how to pray. I am convinced that at least part of their desire to learn to pray is the example that they had seen in Jesus. What does it look like to pray in a way that God is glorified? Daniel gives us an example of this in Daniel 9. Daniel knew that the 70 years of captivity in Babylon was coming to an end. Therefore, Daniel begins praying by asking God for mercy. Daniel prayed, “O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies.” He appeals to God’s faithfulness to him and to His promises in the past. That gave Daniel confidence that God would be faithful in the present and future as well. Then, Daniel confesses his and Israel’s sin. Finally, he asks God to act based on God’s faithfulness, not because of who Israel is.
In this prayer, we see some important truths about prayer. First, it is rooted in who God is. Our prayers should be more God-focused than me-focused. While we often bring God our laundry list of wants and needs; we need to orient our mind to the One we are speaking with. There is nothing wrong with asking for God to meet our needs. However, that isn’t what we should begin with, because that causes us to focus on us more than God. When we only pray for our needs, we act as though God is a genie in a bottle, just waiting for us to rub the lamp so He can pop out and grant us whatever we want. Prayer is about God and to God. It is about glorifying Him, and seeking to please Him. Second, we need to remember why we can come to God. We can’t come to God based on who we are, or what we do. If it wasn’t for Jesus’ love and grace in going to the cross, we wouldn’t be able to come before God because of our sin. Every blessing we have is based on who God is, not because of who I am. Finally, we need to express gratefulness and trust in what God will do, knowing it will be right no matter what.
Lord, teach us to pray!
By His grace and for His glory,