The Problem When Our Problems Consume Our Praying

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July 18, 2018

Matthew 6: 9-13 NIV

““This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’”

CONSIDER THIS

I remember the first day of class in my Freshman year of college. The professor drew a diagram on the board of a pyramid he introduced to us as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. He explained Abraham Maslow’s theory that human beings start at the lowest and most basic level of needs for physical survival and work their way up to the highest level need of self actualization. Here is the hierarchy of needs:

  • PHYSICAL: Air, water, food, rest, health, etc.
  • SECURITY: Safety, shelter, stability
  • SOCIAL: Belonging, being loved, inclusion, etc.
  • EGO: Self esteem, power, recognition, prestige
  • SELF ACTUALIZATION: Finding meaning through larger purpose

In the pyramid scheme it looks like this, in the reverse order with the physical at the bottom and self actualization at the top:

The fascinating thing about the Lord’s Prayer is the way it corresponds with the hierarchy of needs. Watch this:

  • PHYSICAL: Give us this day our daily bread (Provision).
  • SECURITY: Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the Evil One (Protection).
  • SOCIAL: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us (Peace).
  • EGO: Hallowed be your name (Power).
  • SELF ACTUALIZATION: Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven (Purpose).

The Lord’s Prayer also inverts the pyramid, with the base at the top and the top at the bottom. In other words, we aren’t climbing our way up the pyramid through a quest of meeting a hierarchy of needs. We begin at the very bottom with the consuming purpose of God’s Kingdom and trust our needs to be met by God.

Later in this same chapter, Jesus challenges us not to worry about food and clothes and all the needs of our lives which can generate so much anxiety and worry. He says instead, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33.

“All these things,” also known as “our problems,” fall into the categories of provision, protection, and peace, and can consume every bit of our waking lives. Jesus doesn’t want us consumed by our problems but captured by the consuming priority of “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” 

That’s my theory on why Jesus wants the Disciple’s Prayer to be the 53 word extent of lifting up our basic needs before him behind closed doors. He wants the bulk of our time to be spent praying on-location, as we move about the every day, walking around world of family,  work and community—in the “zone” of “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” 

In other words, I don’t think he wants us to spend a lot of time in our prayer closets praying about our problems (or other people’s problems for that matter). Don’t you think that instead of praying in our closets for hungry people to be fed (or fill in any number of other things we might pray about), he would rather us prayerfully go about feeding them?

Summarizing: The problem of our problems is the way they can consume our praying. When Jesus’ passion, which is his Kingdom, becomes our priority, our problems become his priority.

Am I saying these 53 words should be the extent of our “behind closed doors” praying? No, but for purposes of our Disciple’s Prayer Experiment, that’s all I am asking us to do in our prayer closets for the next several weeks. Remember the challenge?

  1. Go into a room.
  2. Close the door.
  3. Say the 53 words aloud to God.
  4. Leave. Seriously, leave.

I can already tell. This is going to change me.

THE PRAYER

Almighty Ascended Lord Jesus Christ, you are high and exalted yet nearer than our breath. Bring new order and clear dimension and fresh power to my praying. Show me what closet prayer looks like and then lead me in how prayer on the streets works. I am ready for your ancient yet new ways. Right here, Jesus. Right now, Jesus. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. Have you accepted the Disciple’s Prayer Experiment Challenge? Why or why not? How is that going?
  2. What do you think of the way the Lord’s Prayer matches up with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?
  3. What do you think about the way the Lord’s Prayer inverts the hierarchy into a lowerarchy, where everyone can find and fulfill the big purpose at the bottom level while learning to trust God; rather than having to climb to the top?

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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