The Correct Way to Pray


volume 16, number 6, February 9, 2017

Pray, then, in this way.” -Matthew 6:9

The Correct Way to Pray

My good friend, Archie Parrish, has taught me and many others some very valuable lessons about prayer. He says that we should always pray with a kingdom focus. By this he means that even if you pray for your spouse’s healing from cancer, or for your adult child who was laid off from his job to find a new one; that you must pray with eternity and the work of Christ’s kingdom in full view. So often I hear people at church and in prayer meetings give what Archie calls “an organ recital.” Their prayer requests seem to go on endlessly about people’s physical maladies, asking for them to be healed. There is nothing wrong, of course, in praying for healing or for someone to get a job or to sell a house, as long as the prayer fits the Biblical model of kingdom focused prayer. 

Here’s an example of how to pray with a kingdom focus. “Most gracious Heavenly Father, You alone are the creator and sustainer of all things. You know my needs even before I mention them to You. You know that my wife has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. I am asking You, in the name of Jesus, to heal my wife. I ask You to do this so that my friends and family members who do not know You may see the power and authority You have over all things. I pray that in the midst of our suffering You will use us as an example of hope and grace to others. I pray You will give us grace to look not at the things which are seen, but at those things which are unseen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are unseen are eternal. We pray this temporary, light affliction will produce in us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison. I pray that You will use this hardship and trial in our lives to sanctify us, to build a greater degree of holiness and trust in Your kind and gracious providence. Please grant to us Your grace daily to consider all of these trials with joy, knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance and that endurance will have its perfect result, that eventually we will be perfect and complete in every way, lacking in nothing. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, we pray. Amen.”

The Westminster divines did a masterful job in expounding on the meaning and depth of the six petitions of the Lord’s prayer in the Larger Catechism of the Westminster Confession of Faith, Questions and Answers 186-196. Below is my summation of the first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, as expounded in the Larger Catechism. Perhaps you can use these to assist you in praying with a kingdom focus. I will list the last three next week. 

Petition One, Hallowed be Thy name.

As you pray, draw near to God with:

– confidence in His fatherly goodness

– reverence

child-like faith

– a heart for the glory of God

an appropriate understanding of His sovereign power, majesty, gracious     


And acknowledge your inability to honor God as you ought.

And ask God for His grace, that He will enable you and others to acknowledge and highly esteem God and His:

– titles

– attributes

– ordinances (the preaching of His word, worship, and the sacraments)

– Word (the Bible in your own study and your hearing the word preached, taught).

Ask God to prevent and remove from our community and nation:

– atheism

– ignorance of God and His ways

– idolatry (the idols we all tend to worship in our hearts)

– profaneness (all manner of wickedness and perversion in our culture).

Ask God by His overruling providence to direct and carry out all things for His own glory.

Petition Two, Thy kingdom come.

Acknowledge that all humanity is by nature under the dominion of sin and Satan.

Pray that the kingdom of sin and Satan will be destroyed, that:

– the gospel will be propagated throughout the world

– the Jews will be called, converted in large numbers

– the fullness of the Gentile nations will come, every tribe, tongue, people, nation

– the church will have the church officers (preachers, elders, deacons, missionaries) she needs to accomplish her task

– the church will be purged of her corruption- heresy, lukewarmness, licentiousness

– the church will be free, unhindered by the government to carry out her task

– the church will purely dispense the ordinances of Christ (preaching, worship, sacraments, discipline)

– the preaching and teaching of God’s word would convert the lost, and comfort and establish the believer.

– Christ will rule in the hearts of His people, hastening His second coming

– God would be pleased to exercise the power of His kingdom in all the world to His own glory.

Petition Three, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

In prayer, acknowledge that by nature we and all people are not only utterly unable and unwilling to know and do the will of God, but we are also prone to rebel against God’s word, to murmur against His providence, and wholly inclined to do the will of the flesh and of the devil.

Therefore, pray that:

– God would by His Spirit take away from ourselves and others all blindness, weakness, disobedience, and perversity of heart

– by His grace make us able and willing to know, do, and submit to His will in all things.

– with all humility, cheerfulness, faithfulness, diligence, zeal, sincerity, and consistency as the angels in heaven do.

This is the correct way to pray. I urge you to use these very specific, kingdom focused petitions and see what God will do.

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