The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book and training series "Prayer School" For more information or to book a Prayer School training seminar write to the Matthew 5:5 Society here and subscribe to the blog for regular updates and release dates as they become available.
Prayer School – Part Three
hallowed be your name. [Matthew 6:9b]
Prayer is an act of worship.
Here in the very first verse of the prayer, after acknowledging God’s position as head of the family we begin with praise.
When we pray we are in conversation with “Ultimate Reality”. The personal deity that took on flesh and walked among us. It would be disrespectful for us to begin a conversation with the creator of the universe, the most all powerful, God, Love incarnate without at least acknowledging that fact.
Praise, therefore is an essential part of prayer.
Jesus taught that when we pray we are to begin by addressing God as nothing less than our holy father. God’s very name is holy and worthy of praise.
Dictionary.com defines holy, among other things as being “entitled to worship or veneration.”
Therefore, when we pray we must remember to praise God. After having worked through the rest of our prayer we will return to praise in chapter 8. By that point our praise will have taken on deeper meaning and carry additional weight in the context of what we have just prayed but for now our praise is focused on the personal essence of God.
As I have already stated God is Love incarnate. But this is a concept that I have found a lot of people have trouble articulating at first. Therefore, to praise God we must work through what this means and how to address him.
Addressing the Person of Love
When you love someone, you want to be with them, you want to spend time with them and you want to converse with them. Being in the presence of love should never feel awkward or forced. Conversation among intimate partners is different. It’s usually slower, quieter and less pointed than conversations with people who are not your partner.
While it may take time to develop this kind of a relationship with God, your prayer language should reflect this loving relationship. Take your time with it, approach God like you would a loving life partner because in many ways that’s what He is.
God loves you just the way you are. There is nothing we need to do to gain His approval. Safe in the knowledge of our eternal acceptance we can approach God in complete security and submission.
Whenever I think of God’s acceptance of me I remember the parable of the Lost Son, [Luke 15;11-32]. God, the loving father, is so overjoyed at the presence of his lost son that he doesn’t even let him speak before showering him with full acceptance and love.
That’s what it means to be accepted by God. All we have to do is receive it, we can’t add anything to what God has already done for us. [Luke 12:29-34]
It’s human nature though to want to give something back. In this case, the only thing God wants is your love and thanks in return. The story of the bible is in many ways a story of mankind’s attempts to set up rules and rituals designed to curry favor from and give back to God. But God wants none of it, he simply wants your love and your thanks. [Micah 6:8]
When we say, “hallowed by thy name”, we are coming to God in reverence, accepting his love and thanking him for every blessing that He is continually pouring out over us and the entire world. The only appropriate response to all this blessing is praise and then to get down on our hands and knees and drink it up like a deer at an ever-flowing stream. [Psalm 42:1]