Jesus taught His disciples to pray in a manner that we seldom hear today. He taught them to first seek God, then His kingdom, and then to bring our needs to Him. Most people pray in just the opposite way. We ask God to meet our needs. We then pray for others. And if we have any time left, we give Him thanks and place our focus on Him. But praying like Jesus taught was different.
After we have sought His face, we then pray for others. Then we bring our needs to God. Jesus taught us to bring our most basic needs to the throne of God first – to ask Him for our daily bread. But then, He taught us to bring our deepest needs to Him. And what is the deepest need in our lives?
Forgiveness. There’s no deeper need in the human heart. That’s why Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12 NIV). We need to be forgiven, and we need to forgive others. The two are intricately tied together.
Prayer is basically a response to the character and nature of God. And what is the nature of God? He’s holy. Absolute purity. There’s no blemish in Him. He is complete perfection. He’s in a category all His own. He’s set apart from all other creation. For He’s the Creator. It’s only when we see God in this manner that we see ourselves and the deep need in our lives to be forgiven and to forgive.
Study the lives of the great men and women of God. They all came to know God in His holiness. The power of God in their lives was the fruit of the sweet aroma of God’s holiness in their hearts. Before Moses saw signs, wonders and miracles, he had to take the shoes off his feet because he was standing on holy ground. The reason the ground was holy – God was present.
Before Joshua made his great conquests, God opened his mind and heart to His holiness. Throughout the ages it’s been the same story. Men and women met a holy God, and they were never the same. Isaiah heard the angels crying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory” (Is. 6:3 KJV). He could have no other response but to say, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (v.5).
We live in an age of shallow confession because we’ve lost sight of a holy God. When we see Him in His holiness, we will cry with Isaiah, Paul, Moses, and other men and women of God, “Oh God, forgive me of my sins, of my transgressions. Have mercy on me. I’m so unlike You.” Such confession is the deepest need of our hearts. Only Jesus can meet that need.