The essence of sin, you see, is independence and autonomy from God. “Give us our daily bread” pushes us the opposite way. Jesus showed us that we can ask God for whatever we need, but he also stressed the need for confession. Confession is an important part of our spiritual growth, because it helps us clear out sin so that it isn’t growing and spreading in us.
The point of prayer is not to get God to help us in all of our agendas. Instead, we should seek to join God where he is already working. When we pray, “Let your kingdom come, your will be done,” we are surrendering ourselves to pursue God’s agenda on earth.
Have you noticed in Jesus’ model prayer in Matthew 6 that before we get to any requests—which is, of course, the thing that occupies most of our prayers—there are several phrases that focus on our relationship with God? After we pray, “Our Father,” “hallowed be your name” should precede any request we make of God. This is a request for God be hallowed in our eyes and to show the world that he is hallowed through us.
Thankfully, we don’t have to wonder how we should pray. There is a story in the New Testament where Jesus not only explains to the disciples how to pray but also gives a prayer to model theirs after. The Lord’s Prayer should shape the way we pray today, too.
Right now, you may be hiding in the crowd, wondering what it’s like to be exposed in all this mess before Jesus. He is calling you his daughter and son. He wants you to know that you are not damaged, second-rate, unworthy, or unloved. You are a precious and beloved child whom he has created and redeemed specifically for his purposes.
This parable in Luke 14 is Jesus’ summation of Israel’s response to him: God had invited them to his kingdom, and they had (on the surface) accepted, but now they are making excuses as to why they can’t come. These are really religious people, of course—they had accepted the first invitation and considered themselves God’s people. But now that Jesus is here and inviting them to follow him, they won’t respond.