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First Things First

The prayer that Jesus taught His disciples drips with depth and meaning. Every line offers a glimpse into who God is, how He has ordered His world, and how He wants us to relate to Him.

We’ve already looked at the first half of the prayer.

We come to Him as our Father in Heaven.

We pray that we would do honor His name and reputation.

We ask that His kingdom would come in our lives as we live as His citizens and that His will would be done as we trust and obey our King.

The prayer now shifts focus.

We move onto our daily bread. We ask forgiveness for our sins and seek God’s help in forgiving those that have sinned against us. We pray that He would not lead us into temptation and protect us from the Enemy.

We’ll look at each of these lines in turn.

But let’s not pass too quickly over the shift. The order matters. Jesus prioritizes prayer.

James Emery White observed, “First it ascends to the heights of heaven, and then it returns to the plains of earth. It directs us vertically, then horizontally; First we focus on God, then on us; there is attention to the One prayed to and then to the one who is praying.” (The Prayer God Longs For, 59)

So often, I begin with myself.

I come to God with a long list of needs and, often, wants. I skip over the first half and jump straight to the second. It’s not that I even invert the order. I simply omit an entire portion.

Maybe you do, too.

Before we move on to the second half, perhaps we should take time to put first things first. Perhaps we should pay attention to how Jesus prioritized His prayer.

God’s name.

God’s kingdom.

God’s will.

There will be opportunity ahead to return to the plains of earth.

Let’s ascend to the heights of heaven for now. Let’s linger there. Let’s allow God’s perspective to invade our prayers. Let’s allow His name, His kingdom, and His will to consume our prayers.

Only when we have attended to the first things can we attend to the second things.

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