King David showed us his nearly-identical “bookend prayer” that he prayed both at the beginning of his reign as king and again just before he died. We can pray similar bookend prayers when we begin with a petitionary prayer—“God, please help me”—and finish with a thankful prayer—“God, thank You for helping me.” We can also try to expand those bookends toward the middle, allowing us to live as the apostle Paul admonished in 1 Thessalonians 5:17:
- Pray without ceasing
- Pray continually
- Never stop praying
Jesus gave us a model prayer at the heart—the very middle—of His Sermon on the Mount. This sermon has 107 verses of Christ’s words, making the middle verse Matthew 6:6, which starts, “When you pray….” Notice the model Jesus gave us:
- Hallowing God—Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name
- Bringing our petitions—Give us our daily bread, help us forgive, deliver us from evil
- Worshiping God for His answers and for Who He is—Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen!
Surrounding this prayer is a Christ-centered life that is:
- Blessed (the beatitudes)
- God-glorifying—so they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven
- Perfect—be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect
- Compassionate—when you give to the needy
- Disciplined—fasting, handling your treasures
- Anxiety-free—do not worry
- Fruitful—every good tree bears good fruit
- Secure—your foundation is on the rock
You see: Prayer helps us live out a God-honoring testimony, and that God-honoring testimony is empowered by prayer. Prayer is both the bookends AND at the heart of a Christ-centered life.
The heart of a God-honoring prayer is to live out a God-honoring testimony.
David’s bookend prayer follows the same model Jesus gave us: hallowing God, making petitions, and then worshipping God.
Christians need to be BOTH first responders in prayer AND continual responders in prayer—prayer at the beginning, prayer at the heart, and prayer at the end. This way, when God does answer, there is no doubt that He was the One who answered, and it wasn’t just because of something we did.
Prayer fuels our testimony. Our testimony glorifies God. At the heart of this testimony, our answered prayers glorify our heavenly Father and point others to Him.
Let me say it again: The heart of a God-honoring prayer is to live out a God-honoring testimony.
If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series called Be A First Responder, you can access the full list by clicking here.