#WCSK Episode 2.4b: The Lord’s Prayer

Continuing from last week …

Our Father who is in heaven (Adoration). As R.C. Sproul notes, those writers and authors in the Jewish tradition never called God “Father” in their written prayers until the tenth century A.D.[1] In contrast, Jesus almost always referred to God as “Father” when He prayed.

Hence, in The Lord’s Prayer, Jesus invites us all to address God as “Father,” which points to a familial, close, intimate relationship. 

Technically speaking, Jesus is the only begotten Son of the Father, and thus Jesus is the only One who can properly call God “Father” (Mark 14:36). Yet, as Paul writes in Galatians 4:6, the Holy Spirit works in us to turn us toward God and say “Abba! Father!”—a term of endearment.[2] We are not talking to an impersonal “It” detached from our reality but to a loving Parent who has chosen adopted[3] sons and daughters into His family. Resultantly, the adopted call God Our Father to represent the head of the corporate family. Interestingly, these two words draw our attention to God and to our neighbor, because God is never “mine”—He’s ours. There are countless elect others who call Him Father as well, and they are our brothers and sisters as a function of adoption. Hence, the first two words of The Lord’s Prayer orient the reader to the two greatest commandments: to love God and to love one’s neighbor.[4]

Notice that we are encouraged to call the Patriarch “Father”—not Mr., Sir, or Commander, but Father. This conjures up the idea of a strong, nurturing relationship that all humans can relate to and purposely does not invent a new type of name for God that is foreign to human understanding. It must also be said that there are many natural fathers who abuse their position, but again, Our Father is not the exact same as an earthly father because Our Father is a Dad Who is in heaven. This is what separates the One Divine Father from earthly fathers and their inherent human flaws.

Furthermore, we were not adopted out of divine necessity but out of the grace of God. And of course, it goes without saying that all those who call God “Father” do not necessarily have a genuine relationship with Him, as Jesus so informs the persecutory Jews in John 8:39-47.

So within the first two words of The Lord’s Prayer, our hearts and minds are directed in proper orientation to the One who chose us, and even after that choosing, has invited us into His presence to call Him “Father.” All of this illuminates the understanding that despite the fact that God is “Our Father” and in this there is nearness, He “is in Heaven,” and there is simultaneous away-ness (no, that isn’t a word, but you get the point). Even though He has an otherworldliness about Him, we can still come into His presence at any time through our prayers and be near to Him.

Hallowed be Your Name (Adoration). According to Strong’s Concordance, the word hallowed is translated from the Greek word hagiazō, meaning, “to make holy, purify, acknowledge, to separate from profane things and dedicate to God.”[5] Basically, God doesn’t need you to tell Him that His name is holy, but by Jesus telling His disciples to pray in this manner, He instructs us to make an appeal that God’s name will be treated with esteem, regarded as sacred, and treated with veneration. We know from the Third Commandment[6] that God takes His name very seriously, and thus so should we. Therefore, the first formal line of The Lord’s Prayer after the opening is a proclamation for His name to be honored, which sets the tone for what is to follow.

One may ask what the big deal is if God’s name isn’t respected.[7] Well, disregard for God’s name leads to familiarity and ordinariness, irrevocably leading to lack of respect and disregard for God Himself. Consider that in modern society, people casually say, “Oh my —” reflexively or use His name before d@mn as a cuss word. You may still be asking what the big deal is, and that’s exactly the point. Treating the name of God like every other name means one is not separating it from profane things or making it holy—it desecrates it.

“Hallowed be Your Name” is an appeal for respect because victory for God’s purposes on Earth cannot happen in a realm where no one has any respect for Him. 

Being adopted by God carries with it the responsibility and accountability of honoring Him.

In the Old Testament, God codified reverence for His name in the Ten Commandments, and now in the New Testament, Jesus codifies the sacredness of God’s name in the start of The Lord’s Prayer. This sets the tone, preps our attitudes, and immediately destroys any frolicsome ideas we may have in regards to the way we address The Lord.

Your kingdom come (Adoration). So after we recognize the holiness of God’s name, Jesus then tells us to pray for the coming of the kingdom of God. God already rules in the kingdom of heaven, but Jesus was telling His disciples to spread the reign of God in the natural earthly realm so that it would mimic the perfect heavenly reign of God. This is what John the Baptizer was alluding to when he said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). Of course, human beings always want a king with a kingdom, but they have always rejected God as the King of Kings and often settled for less-than-adequate substitutes.[8] In the case of King Saul, for example, the Israelites chose a king of their own desires (I Samuel 8:4-5), even though they were told that he would rob them blind (I Samuel 8:11-18). When Jesus came around, not only did the Jews reject Him, but the Romans crucified Him. These groups weren’t saying “Your kingdom come” but “Get your stinking kingdom out of here!” Clearly we have much work to do in modern society. For example, I wrote in the introduction to What Christians Should Know that about one in five American adults is either an atheist or agnostic. This fact highlights the acute need in our prayers for petitions such as “Your kingdom come.”

God isn’t running out of room in heaven and needing more space. Rather, the petition that “Your kingdom come” is an appeal for God to pierce the hearts of those on earth to be ruled by the Messiah. It is a petition for people in this world to be moved by the Holy Spirit to have regenerated hearts, turn to Jesus, and bow before the true King. Jesus described what the kingdom of God would be like by describing the type of characters that would serve in it in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7). God’s kingdom is otherworldly, and this is why Jesus told Pilate in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” Similarly, God’s chosen are in this world, but our citizenship is not of this world (Philippians 3:20).

It is important to note that the kingdom of Jesus is not something that we’re all waiting for technically speaking. That is, He’s already the King with all authority “in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18).

God’s kingdom is unseen, and when we pray that “Your kingdom come,” this is a request that in every aspect of our individual lives and in the communal life of the church, we bring the invisible kingdom into the visible realm—this applies to every aspect of our lives, including family, relationships, evangelism, community service, devotional life, schools, jobs, finances, behavior patterns, and methods of thinking.

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Adoration). God’s will is that we obey His Word and keep His commandments. Hence, when we say these words, it is of tremendous value to know God’s Word, the Bible. Knowledge of the Bible drives our prayers,[9] so that God’s Word, and thus knowledge of His will, abides in us. Our expressed words thus match His Word dwelling in us. Resultantly, Jesus, the Word made flesh, says, “if you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (emphasis added; John 15:7).

No person knows all of God’s will, yet that doesn’t stop everybody from investigating. So if we pray for God’s will to be done, but we don’t know what God’s will is, aren’t we shooting arrows in the dark? Not necessarily, because there is not one single flavor of God’s will. Allow me to explain. The Greek word for “will” used in the The Lord’s Prayer is thelēma, which means what God wishes, has commanded, or has determined shall be done. The other word for “will” in the New Testament is boulema,[10] meaning plan or intention. This word suggests predetermination and thus rigidity. Although these are two different words with a slight difference in meaning, over time the two became interchangeable synonyms.

Accordingly, from the contextual usage of “will” in the New Testament, Bible scholars formulated three different types of God’s will: (1) God’s efficacious will. Here, God determines it shall happen, and it happens. Nothing can stop His efficacious will because He is sovereign. As an example, Jesus told a sick and crippled man in John 5:8 to “pick up [his] pallet and walk.” Immediately the man was healed, got up, and walked. There is nothing that man could have done to deter Jesus’s will and resultant command. Human beings are passive recipients when it comes to God’s efficacious will. (2) God’s preceptive will. Here God would like for things to happen, but you can reject that will. The preceptive will pertains to God’s explicit rules and commandments. For example, Exodus 20:17 essentially says, “Do not covet your neighbor’s things,” so it is very clear that God wills everyone not to yearn after someone else’s possessions. Yet, people covet every second of every day. So, asking “Your will be done” is an appeal for people to adhere to God’s preceptive will. Human beings are active and responsible when it comes to God’s preceptive will. (3) God’s will as it pertains to His disposition or His general character. Here, the will of God has to do with what is agreeable or disagreeable to Him. For example, it is agreeable to God that people live obedient, faithful, and productive lives. It is disagreeable to Him for people to live slanderous and indolent lives.

So, as it pertains to God’s efficacious will, there can never be a discrepancy between what God wills and what is. However, there can be a very large gap between His preceptive will or His disposition and what we do here on earth. Hence, Jesus tells His disciples to qualify “Your will be done” with the phrase “on earth as it is in heaven.” The implication is that in heaven, everything that happens fulfills the will of God. On earth, many things do not, hence the petition.

In a general sense, then, believers always know what God’s revealed will (included within His preceptive and dispositional wills) is because the Bible is full of commands and instructions on what to do and descriptions of God’s character. Believers can never know God’s secret will (included within His efficacious will), because of course, He’s God, and the secret things belong to Him only (Deuteronomy 29:29). This does not preclude that fact that God is willing to reveal more of Himself in prayer. All we have to do is ask: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).

This leads to an important point worth considering: If God’s will is what ultimately will be done, then why should anyone bother praying? In other words, God is eternal and sovereign. So, prayer never changes God’s mind. So then, why bother to pray? Because, as R.C. Sproul writes,

“Prayer does change things, all kinds of things. But the most important thing it changes is us. As we engage in communion with God more deeply and come to know the One with whom we are speaking more intimately, that growing knowledge of God reveals to us all the more brilliantly who we are and our need to change in conformity to Him. Prayer changes us profoundly.”[11]

God is the first cause of all things. This doesn’t disqualify the fact that secondary causes are the means by which His first cause materializes. Even more, His first cause often is directed at us and not at what is around us. This highlights one of the most overlooked aspects of prayer: It has more power to change us on the inside than it does to change things on the outside. Prayer is a discourse with God and is relational. It naturally follows that its primary activity is to strengthen the bond of that relationship. Consequently, Jesus never overpowered people with His will, nor did He, for example, change the external circumstance of the oppressive imperial Roman regime of the time. He invited people to draw close to Him for the purpose of the relationship: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (emphasis added; Matthew 11:28). If rest is to be found in a Person, one can still be at peace regardless of the circumstances.

God’s sovereignty also does not nullify our individual freedom—God’s sovereignty defines the contours of human freedom. There is nothing in my natural life that I could ever do, nor is there any request in my prayer life that I could ever make, that would negate God’s sovereignty. Within the contours that His sovereignty has defined, I am free to operate, and within this sphere, prayer changes much. This highlights the point that prayer is done exclusively for our sakes. We are incapable of drawing close to God without prayer, and God’s eternal will works through our individual will through prayer to satisfy the demands of His will.

The Bible never says that God created and then left us alone. He is constantly working in and through creation, utilizing active participants. Prayer will not change the Creator, but prayer will change the creation that stands under the control of the Creator.[12] Even God (Jesus) prayed to God (the Father) in order to bring events to pass (John 11:38-44). If God’s sovereignty did, in fact, nullify what we do, then there would be no reason to do anything: pray, fast, read the Bible, worship, or be obedient.

This is exactly why in the lesson on the Tabernacle (Part I and Part II), it was emphasized that priestly prayer and intercession are what shifts the believer from standing almost next to God to being directly in His presence. The execution of intercessory prayer for others and making our specific requests known to God is what changes the circumstances of our life. R.C. Sproul thus writes, “The intricate problem of the relationship between the sovereignty of God and human prayers comes not at the point of adoration and confession, but at the point of intercession and supplication.”[13]

Here lies a timeless question: How do I know God’s will for my life? The more I study the Bible, the more I believe that an even better question to ask is, “If God does reveal His will to you, are you prepared to accept the answer and its consequences?” Let me give you an example. In Luke 22:39-46, before Jesus is crucified, He prays to the Father and asks God, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” So, God asks God to stop something from happening, and what is God’s response? The thing is still going to happen. Not only that, but despite Jesus’s agony (sweating blood, verse 44), after He prays, God sends an angel to strengthen Jesus so that He can eventually endure the thing (the Cross).

Throughout His prayer, Jesus qualified His petition with “Father, if You are willing…” Oftentimes, God’s answer to our petitions is simply, “Submit to My will.”[14] Other times, God’s “silence” often calls us simply to wait on Him,[15] and in this time of waiting, we may have our desires changed, our insight increased, a new revelation, or a new assurance of what God’s will truly is. 

The pursuit of God’s will through prayer may be one of the most submissive, pious searches a believer can execute in his or her walk. It may also be a search saturated in pride and conceit. Determining which scenario applies to you depends on who’s will you are really looking for.

Furthermore, the practical answer to the question of how you can know God’s will becomes evident: You have to search for it. For example, in order to write this lesson, I began with a question: What instruction can I give to believers that delivers helpful, practical, and actionable advice on the topic of prayer? So what did I do? I prayed. I read the Bible. I wrote. I read three books on prayer. I prayed. I read some more. I read more Bible verses. I wrote again. So while God never revealed His will to me and said, “Lesson number four shall be on prayer! Thus sayeth The Lord!” I know from reading the Bible that all believers should be able to relay sound doctrine (Titus 2:1), Scripture is profitable for teaching (II Timothy 3:16), the Word guides us in our everyday lives (Psalms 119:105), and one of the responsibilities of leaders in the church is to teach properly and with integrity (Titus 2:7-8). I am also aware that the second I begin to teach people about the Bible, I subject myself to greater scrutiny and judgment (James 3:1-2), so I cannot bring my B game. I can’t even bring my A- game. God demands A+ effort, so I have to search, research, search, research, and then write. So why did I go through all that? Because I specifically asked God for guidance and never received an answer, but although I don’t know His secret will nor has He revealed anything to me, I know enough about His preceptive will to guide my actions. In fact, if I ever assumed that I could get a hold of the Almighty’s secret will, then I’ve asked a question that doesn’t concern me. In our lives, the revealed will is always where we start.

For an even more practical example, let’s say you’re a young twenty-something thinking about where to go to school or who to marry, and you are constantly praying, “Your will be done.” At the end of the day, because God defines the contours of your will, any choice you make cannot override God’s sovereignty. If you do make a choice that flirts with a limit, God always has a way of re-directing you. So while you may endlessly deliberate on whether to go to the Ivy League school in Philadelphia or the big football school down south, His revealed will is more concerned with how you conduct yourself when you get there. Similarly, when it comes to looking for a mate, people often pray and wait on God to show them who their perfect soul mate is without realizing that His revealed will induces you to pursue much more self-scrutiny than other-scrutiny.

A Biblical example of God’s will in action can be seen in the story of Joseph (Genesis 37-44). If Joseph as a young teenager sought God’s will and God actually told Him that he would one day be one of the most powerful men on Earth, the desired revelation would likely fill a teenager’s head with too much ego. Conversely, if it was revealed to Joseph that he would be sold into slavery by his brothers, he likely would have ran far, far away and never looked back. Instead, what Joseph did receive was a vague dream (37:5-7) with an expressed promise. So, as time moved forward, although Joseph experienced many trials and tribulations, it was his faith and the lack of complete knowledge of God’s plan that kept Joseph moving forward. Ultimately, at the end of Joseph’s trials, when he was on top in Egypt and able to assist his entire family, he could then look back and make sense of his whole story in light of the ending God had written for him. God’s ending always makes sense of the rest of your story, but you often have to get to the ending for His divine will to be the most compelling.

Always, we are to come before God and let Him know what is in our hearts, but we must also realize that He is the One who knows what’s best for us. To pray that “Your will be done” means that whatever the answer is, it is His will, not our will, that we will faithfully obey, no matter the cost.

Before we move on to the next segment, realize that the beginning of The Lord’s Prayer is essentially an expression of the First Commandment (Exodus 20:3), that God is God and He alone is God. Hence, He is “Our Father who is in heaven,” whose name is “hallowed” and whose kingdom do we seek to make visible. Before we do anything else in prayer, we glorify The Lord.

Give us this day our daily bread (Thanksgiving and Supplication). In asking God for our daily bread, we are alerted to the fact that He is the one Who provides for us each and every day. This request is rooted in the Old Testament, where God provided daily bread (manna) to the people of Israel who were wandering in the wilderness (Exodus 16:1-7). Because God gives freely, this is a reason for thanksgiving. And just like it did for the Israelites in the desert, the fact that each new day He willingly provides for us keeps our frame of mind focused on The Lord as a reliable provider. Essentially, we, as the creations, are asking God to grant us something, and the Scriptures tell us that He is both more than able to give and willing to give. The following verses provide examples.

“For every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10).

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17).

“Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:9-11).

Moreover, in relation to God, asking for something as minute as daily bread reveals that God is wholly invested in the minutiae of our everyday lives and that He wants us to depend on Him for provision. God will provide for His own: “I have been young and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread” (emphasis added; Psalms 37:25). We can’t petition God in prayer once a month or once a year and expect that He will provide if we haven’t acknowledged our innate necessity and reliance on Him. Although not explicit, the implication is that we are to pray every day.

Finally, if we are to pray for daily bread, then Jesus is telling us not to pray for an overabundance of bread, nor are we to be anxious about either getting more or not having enough. Jesus says in Matthew 6:25-26, “Do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” We can draw life insights from the Israelites who were instructed in Exodus 16 not to take more than a day’s supply of manna from heaven.

It is within God’s will, as expressed by Jesus in The Lord’s Prayer, that He desires to provide daily needs, not excessive ones. So while God wants us to ask, He is not inviting us to ask for abundance, only daily bread. And, if He entreats us to be as specific as asking for a daily need, God can only answer specifically if we make a specific request. As R.C. Sproul writes, “We have a tendency to pray in general. When we pray in general, the only way we will see the hand of God’s providence is in general.”[16]

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors (Confession and Supplication). The word for debts in Greek (opheilēma) doesn’t refer to a monetary debt but to sins, and thus something that is legally owed to a God who finds sins offensive. The debt of sin is a moral one. In fact, the New Testament often refers to sins as a debt owed to God as we incur an obligation to Him. Jesus has already paid the eternal price for all sins, but we make an appeal to God to forgive our sins as we inevitably commit sin and become indebted to The Lord. What truly is unsettling about asking God to “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” is that our personal forgiveness becomes contingent upon our forgiveness of others. This places an acute emphasis not only on the vertical relationship to God but also on the horizontal relationship to our neighbors.

Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (emphasis added). Mark 11:25 also emphasizes that before we petition God, we must reconcile with our neighbors: “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.” Jesus says to forgive our neighbors “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22) times. This part of The Lord’s Prayer forces us to realize that our relationship with God is not independent of others but inclusive of others.

In three separate places (Matthew 22:37-38, Mark 12:30-31, and Luke 10:27) Jesus says of everything we are told to do in the entire Bible, the top two commands are to love God and to love your neighbor. If someone does not repent through genuine prayer and confession and has an antagonistic attitude toward his or her neighbor, then they do so to their own detriment: “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5). In the spirit of reconciliation, it must be mentioned that forgiveness of others does not abrogate justice.

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil (Supplication). This is the only part of The Lord’s Prayer where the original Greek delivers the most insight into understanding the Prayer itself. The word for temptation (peirasmos) means a trial, adversity, or putting to proof. God tempts no one (James 1:13), but He frequently tests His elect, and that exam “will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able” (I Corinthians 10:13). Asking God to “lead us not into temptation” petitions Him to not let adversity strike because, obviously, trials are never fun. Yet, God will test those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:6), and the purpose of the trials is to make the believer more complete and purify their righteousness (James 1:2-4).

The word for evil, ponēros, uses a particular masculine version of the noun for evil. Hence, although the NASB translates it as “evil,” the more exact translation is “the evil one” or Satan. Hence, the New King James Version says, “But deliver us from the evil one.” So, in this petition, Jesus is telling us that when we pray, we are to ask God not to lead us into difficult trials, but we are also to petition God to be delivered from the cunning attacks of the devil. Jesus knew firsthand what it meant to be lead into temptation and to be subjected to the wiles of Satan (Luke 4:1-13). It is impossible for humans to resist these attacks by themselves, so we pray, seeking divine protection.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen (Adoration). The Lord’s prayer starts with God and ends with God. Here, at the end, the one praying recognizes the Divine Kingship of God, Who is sovereign over the kingdom, Who has unquestioned power, and Who is to be glorified. The one praying concludes that at the end of his or her prayer, it is God’s will that reigns supreme, not the person’s will. To embrace this idea means that you recognize and accept that God is an eternal monarch whose system of government is a monarchy. It’s not a democracy, so there is no popular opinion, nor do I get to vote on what I think is right. The Lord rules, and we follow, and we gladly follow because His eternal power enables us to be citizens of that heavenly kingdom. Citizenship in that eternal kingdom offers eternal life, something no earthly dynasty can ever provide. Because of this reality, we glorify God.

In the close of The Lord’s Prayer, we humbly recognize that we exist but for a season, yet it is God Who rules His kingdom with power and glory forever: “For this reason also, God highly exalted [Jesus], and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

Conclusion: What this all means

At the start of this lesson, I mentioned that prayer is not transactional but transformational. In transactional relationships, one party does something as part of an exchange, like an employee working for an hourly wage. When the incentive for the transaction no longer exists, the employee stops working. Hence, this employee is “stuck” in a position we can all relate to: doing a job not for the job itself but for the money. The work is only a means to get a paycheck, so the work has no real value to us. Typically, we are apathetic and need more incentive for more effort. Here, we do to get and are driven by something on the outside.

In contrast, a transformational relationship actually transforms the parties involved so that through persuasion and voluntary engagement, they begin to set their eyes on an admirable goal or an idea that transcends what they are doing right now. Here, I do the work or job in pursuit of that goal, so if this requires doing more work or exerting more effort beyond the bounds of my “job description,” I do so cheerfully and willingly—because I believe in the principle—like an eager young entrepreneur sacrificing sleep, time, and resources in pursuit of a revolutionary business idea. Here, we do because we believe and are driven by something on the inside. The stronger our belief, the more we do.

In transactional prayer, all we want is something from God but not God Himself—not His will, not His kingdom, not His power. If God then gives the something to us, the “transaction” is complete, and we no longer have a need for Him. In this scenario, granting a prayer request is actually dangerous because it will distort our perception of The Lord and therein distort our self-image as image-bearers of Him.

Prayer is the transformational medium in our relationship with God, yet the transformation is one-sided: only we change. We change slowly and steadily to become more like Christ so that our will matches His will, our heart matches His heart, and our mind matches His mind. Hence, as we are transformed, all we will desire and pursue is God Himself. This is a Person that transcends our circumstances. Subsequently, as elect, regenerated, repentant believers, our eyes are set on The Lord, whom we know we will glorify through prayer, and we exercise our faith in Him by prayer. This transforms us even more, drawing us closer to Him and increasing our desire to pray and fellowship with Him even more. In the end, the Bible teaches us that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (emphasis added; Romans 8:28). Those who love God faithfully effectively pray to Him, and He uses our prayers to shape us according to His glorious purposes. In the end, when He molds us into something new, our purposes, goals and desires change so that our new prayers will match our new vessel.

Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal


[1] R.C. Sproul, The Prayer of the Lord (Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust, 2009), 18.

[2] Abba is an Aramaic word that is analogous to saying “Daddy” or “Papa.”

[3] Adoption is the doctrine that says God makes us members of his family. It is an act initiated by God is not a function of birth. Our adoption is mediated through Christ. See John 1:12; Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 3:23-26, 4:4-7, 28; I John 3:1-2 Those who do not believe in Jesus Christ are not adopted and are “children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3) and “sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2).

[4] Matthew 22:36-40.

[5] James Strong, The New Strong’s Concordance (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2010), Greek, 3.

[6] “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7).

[7] One answer to this question is death. See Leviticus 10:1-3.

[8] c.f. Psalm 2:2-4.

[9] See Acts 4:25-26.

[10] As translated “plan” in Acts 2:23.

[11] R.C. Sproul, The Prayer of the Lord, 14.

[12] As examples, see Exodus 32:9-14; Joshua 10:12-14; I Kings 18:36-40; II Kings 6:15-19; Luke 22:31-32; Acts 1:12-2:4; James 4:2, 5:13-18.

[13] R.C. Sproul, The Prayer of the Lord, 115.

[14] See II Corinthians 12:9-10.

[15] See Psalm 27:14, 38:15, 130:5-6.

[16] R.C. Sproul, The Prayer of the Lord, 72.

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