At root we are selfish and self-willed. We nourish our own ambitions, and our own expectations for ourselves and others, and our own desires. Worse, we still claim the right to harbor certain grudges against others, and hurts from others, which we have cultivated through years of careful attendance and devotion. In short, we’re selfish.
If we are to act as disciples of Christ, we must become increasingly God-centered, desiring His will and seeking after His way of accomplishing that will. And we must become increasingly self-forgetful, rather than self-absorbed.
How is this to be done? Prayer is the means appointed by God. By it, we lose our self-will and become God-centered. Through prayer, the Kingdom of Self is broken down and the Kingdom of God lifted up. Learning how to pray in a Kingdom manner is critical the healthy life of all Christians. The following two steps outline important elements in prayer.
Step One: Pray as the Son or Daughter of the King.
It is critical to recognize, right at the beginning of prayer, that we are there to meet with our Father. We are His sons or daughters, coming to communicate with our Father, God – to enjoy Him, to greet Him, worship Him, and adore Him. "When the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father.' So you are not longer a slave, but a son; and since your are a son, God has made you also an heir." (Galatians 4:4-7). We make a terrible mistake when we rush off into other areas of prayer before this foundational fact is realized in our prayers.
There will be times when this relationship registers itself to us in an experiential way. It’s safe to say that you might feel or sense God’s presence as you bow your heart to Him: praising Him, reviewing the way He called you to faith, giving thanks for the provisions He’s made, and especially as you consider the cross of Christ, and the access to God it has provided for you. "For in Him and through faith in Him we may approach the Father with freedom and confidence." (Ephesians 3:12).
On the other hand, there will be times when no sensation of God’s presence is experienced. Don’t fret over this or struggle to feel some presence. Count on the truth of Scripture: When you cry out in the name of Jesus, you are in God’s presence whether you feel it or not. Jesus says in John 14:23, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him."
In either case, it is your privilege to come before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to enjoy communion with our Father in Heaven who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus, who has chosen us before the creation of the world, predestined us to be adopted as His sons, redeemed us and revealed great things to us. (Ephesians 1:3-8). Enjoy!
Step Two: Pray as a Partner with God.
"And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3).
On this passage, George Muller wrote:
The words fellowship and partnership mean the same thing. The believer in the Lord Jesus does not only obtain forgiveness of all his sins through the shed blood of Jesus, by faith in His name; he does not only become righteous before God, through the righteousness of the Lord Jesus; he is not only born of God, a partaker of the divine nature, and therefore a child of God and an heir of God; but he is also in fellowship or partnership with God.
All that we possess in God as His partners may be brought down into our daily life and be enjoyed, experienced, and used. We may make unlimited use of our partnership with the Father and with the Son and draw out, by prayer and faith, the inexhaustible fullness in God.
I need not despair because the living God is my partner. I do not have sufficient wisdom to meet these difficulties, but He is able to direct me. I can pour out my heart to God and ask Him to guide and direct me and to supply me with wisdom. Then I have to believe that He will do so. I can go with good courage about my business and expect help from Him in the next difficulty that may come before me. As I do, I find that I am truly in partnership with the Father and with the Son.
If I desire more power over temptations, more wisdom, grace, or anything else that I may need in my service for God, what else should I do but make use of my fellowship with the Father and with the Son? In all simplicity, we can pour out our heart before God, because your worries have become His worries too! That is the nature of partnership. And God will give to us according to our need.
Do not let the consciousness of your unworthiness keep you from believing what God has said concerning you. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus, then this precious privilege of being in partnership with the Father and the Son is yours.
And if God is in partnership with you, you are also in partnership with Him. Therefore, His concerns must also become your concerns. What are God's concerns?
The Kingdom of God was the passion of Jesus' earthly life. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" Jesus proclaimed (Mark 1:15). "This then is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:9-10). Jesus said to the disciples, "I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me!"
As a partner with God, pray for the success of His Kingdom. Begin with the Kingdom of God in your own heart. Then pray for the extent of the rule of God over your family. Pray for the Kingdom of God over your church, then your work, then your neighborhood, the nation, foreign lands. Pray with God's concerns in mind. You a partner with God!
These two steps are the basics of prayer: Pray as a son. Pray as a partner.