by Burk Parsons
I have a good friend who is about twice my age. Over the past few years we have hunted together, fished together, and prayed together. He refers to himself as a recovering Pharisee who is learning how to quit praying for his own personal kingdom and how to pray for the kingdom of God. I have learned more about prayer from him than anyone. I have learned that faithfulness in the kingdom of God is more important than successfulness in the kingdom of man. I have learned that the power of God is not made perfect in our strength but in our weakness, and I have learned that kingdom prayer is not merely asking God for what we want in the temporal but what He wants in the eternal.
When the Lord taught His disciples to pray, he didn’t simply tell them what to do, He showed them what to do. Even as the Son of God, He demonstrated His humility and prayed to the Father that His kingdom would come and that His will would be done, and He knew exactly what He was asking for. For even when He prayed in the garden, He humbled Himself before the Father and fell down on His face and prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39). On every occasion, our Lord prayed with an uninterrupted focus on the will of the Father. It would seem appropriate that if the Lord Jesus Christ prayed in such a manner, then so should we. When we come to God in prayer, we must empty ourselves of all arrogance and self-reliance; we must come to the end of ourselves so that our hearts can be lifted up to heaven, and we must focus our minds not on the goods and kindred of this earth but on the precious treasures that await us in our heavenly home.
In his booklet on prayer, entitled Of Prayer: A Perpetual Exercise of Faith, the Daily Benefits Derived from It, John Calvin provides several rules for prayer. He writes, “The third rule to be added is: that he who comes into the presence of God to pray must divest himself of all vainglorious thoughts, lay aside all idea of worth; in short, discard all self-confidence, humbly giving God the whole glory, lest by arrogating anything, however little, to himself, vain pride cause him to turn away his face.” In so doing, we shall conquer the kingdoms of men, tear down the strongholds of this world, and manifest what it means to live a humble existence coram Deo, before the face of God.