Insincere, impure, and unrighteous reasons for prayer are unbecoming of its intended recipient. God is holy, holy, holy (Isaiah 6:3); therefore, our reasons for seeking His glorious and august audience ought to be sincere, pure, and befitting. In Jesus’ model prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), He enunciates three righteous reasons for prayer.
Today, let’s consider the first righteous reason—humanity’s greatest virtues are required and refined in prayer. The virtues are:
- Unselfishness. The model prayer has no “I” or “my” in it. “Our” and “us” are used eight times; “thy” and “thine” are found four times. What a contrast this is with the Pharisees’ prayer in Luke 18:11-12 where he used “I” five times.
- Trust. When godly men have lived as they ought, the word “father” provokes thoughts of compassionate concern and loving providence. Our Father in heaven is trustworthy, and we ought to trust Him implicitly.
- Reverence. “Hallowed by Thy name” (v. 9). Some persons and things in our world are holy and ought to be treated with the greatest of reverence, honor, and respect. Profaning the sacred is a most horrific, dirty sin.
- Loyalty. As citizens of the kingdom of God, the righteous ought to have an unswerving loyalty to it and its righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
- Submission. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (v. 10). The most beautiful fruit which grows from the soil of cultivated unselfishness is the submissive spirit which earnestly prays “not as I will but as You will” (Matthew 26:39).
- Dependence. “Give us this day our daily bread” (v. 11). A constant recognition of our personal helplessness and our continual need for a loving and kind shepherd nourishes a rightful sense of utter dependence on our heavenly Father.
- Penitence. “Forgive us our debts” (v. 12) is the only righteous response the poor in spirit who mourn their spiritual flaws and transgressions can have. “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:13) is a most fitting confession of penitence heard in heaven’s throne room.
- Mercy. “As we forgive our debtors” (v. 12). Imitating the God who is kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving (Ephesians 4:31-5:1) necessitates that we repay no one evil for evil (Romans 12:17). To be merciful we must pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us (Matthew 5:44). We must forgive others from the heart (Matthew 18:35).
- Praise. “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever” (v. 13). This virtue needs great cultivation in this life for it will be essential in the life to come when we add our voices to that heavenly chorus which sings, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created…Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 4:11, 5:12).
What a great proving ground prayer is for the cultivation of humanity’s greatest and most profitable virtues!