Stories from John Piper

Prayer’s First Priority

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” (Matthew 6:9)

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches that the first priority in praying is to ask that our heavenly Father’s name be hallowed.

Notice that this is a petition or a request. It is not a declaration (as I thought it was for years). It is a request to God that he would see to it that his own name be hallowed.

It is like another text, Matthew 9:38, where Jesus tells us to pray to the Lord of the harvest that he would send out laborers into his own harvest. It never ceases to amaze me that we, the laborers, should be instructed to ask the owner of the farm, who knows the harvest better than we do, to add on more farm hands.

But isn’t this the same thing we have here in the Lord’s Prayer — Jesus telling us to ask God, who is infinitely jealous for the honor of his own name, to see to it that his name be hallowed?

Well it may amaze us, but there it is. And it teaches us two things.

One is that prayer does not move God to do things he is disinclined to do. He has every intention to cause his name to be hallowed. Nothing is higher on God’s priority list.

The other is that prayer is God’s way of bringing our priorities into line with his. God wills to make great things the consequence of our prayers when our prayers are the consequence of his great purposes.

Bring your heart into line with the jealousy of God to hallow his name, and you will pray with great effect. Let your first and all-determining prayer be for the hallowing of God’s name, and your prayers will plug into the power of God’s jealousy.

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