Blog Post

How should we pray? In Light of our Salvation.

Have you noticed that the pronouns “me” and “my” never occur in the Lord’s Prayer? Jesus doesn’t tell us to pray to “My Father in heaven” but to “Our Father in heaven.” He doesn’t teach us to pray for “my daily bread” but for “our daily bread.” And the same idea can be seen throughout. Why? Why doesn’t Jesus teach us to pray to “my Father” and for “my daily bread,” especially when He has already emphasized the importance of praying alone “in secret” (Matt. 6:6)? His point is that even when we are alone in secret, we are still to pray to “our Father” and for “our daily bread,” because every time we pray we are to pray in light of our salvation—which is not a private, individual salvation but a public, corporate one.

Jesus didn’t just die on the cross to save me from my sins. Although He certainly did do that, it is only part of the story. What Jesus accomplished on the cross is a whole lot bigger than me and my salvation. He died not only to forgive me but to forgive everyone who would ever believe in Him in the history of the universe. According to the apostle John, that will be “a great multitude,” a number so large that no one will be able to count them all, and they will come from “every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Rev. 7:9). The death of Jesus, therefore, not only reconciles me to God but the whole of this innumerable multitude as well. And it does so because Jesus bore the weight of all my sins—past, present, and future—and the weight of all the sins of the whole of this innumerable multitude—past, present, and future—in an instant on the cross. He endured an eternity of hell for each of these sins in an instant. It should be no surprise, then, that the Gospel-writers tell us that, while He was on the cross, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46).

If my sin really is like an iceberg, as I have argued elsewhere, with only a small percentage of it being visible, then we know that Jesus died not just for the sin that I can see in my life but for all of my sin, even that which is invisible to me. What Jesus seems to be saying in the Lord’s Prayer, however, is that when we pray, we are to pray in light of not just one iceberg (our own) but an ocean full of icebergs—a multitude that no one can number. The point that Jesus would seem to be making here is that our understanding of the nature and extent of His atoning work is directly related to our prayer life. We might put it this way: the more the work of Christ means to us and the more we are gripped with awe at what He has accomplished and the victory He has won, the more we will devote ourselves to prayer. And no doubt the opposite is generally true as well: the less the work of Christ means to us and the less we are gripped with awe at the prospect of what He has done, the less we will give ourselves to prayer. Andrew Murray summed up this idea as follows: “the power that [the work of] Jesus has on my life is the power that it will have in my prayers.”

This means that the more we grow as Christians, the more we also ought to grow in our ability to pray and in our commitment to it. So, one way we can overcome the inadequacy we all feel in regard to prayer is to pursue growth in the Christian life. While this growth is not entirely up to us, it is enough our responsibility that the apostle Peter can command us to give ourselves to it: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). It is, thus, no surprise that so many of the seasoned, mature, battle-tested Christians we know are also the most earnest, fervent, committed pray-ers as well. May we all follow in their footsteps as they follow in Christ’s.