All of us have, at one time or another, completely checked out in prayer. We’ve fallen into a rut, praying the same things in the same way. And by all of us, I definitely mean me. But I assume I’m not alone.
I remember one night coming home from work, completely exhausted, and joining my family to give thanks for our dinner. As I opened my mouth, I began to pray in a way that didn’t make sense: rather than thanking God for providing for our needs, I was asking him to help us sleep well (which I clearly needed to do). I’ve had moments like this when praying with my children; I’ve realized that while I’m saying something true, it’s exactly the same as what I prayed the previous seven nights. A general blessing repeated on autopilot rather than a heartfelt desire to connect with our Father.
To help us connect with God in this deeper way, Albert Mohler—president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and TGC Council member—has written The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down: The Lord’s Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution. He desires that all believers be deeply engaged in prayer and recognizes that we, just like the first followers of Jesus, must turn to Jesus to discover what that means. We need to learn to pray as Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer. And to do that, we must discover what the Lord’s Prayer actually means.
The opening words of the Lord’s Prayer have become so familiar that we often speak them without a thought, sometimes without any awareness that we are speaking at all. But to the disciples who first heard these words from Jesus, the prayer was a thunderbolt, a radical new way to pray that changed them and the course of history.
In this groundbreaking new book, R. Albert Mohler Jr. recaptures the urgency and transformational nature of the prayer, revealing once again its remarkable, world-upending power.
The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down is first and foremost an exposition of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9–13. Mohler carefully unpacks each verse of the prayer, demonstrating how each is saturated by the gospel:
- In the prayer’s shocking (to our ears) lack of singular pronouns, Jesus instructs us to recognize that prayer is a corporate discipline. We’re reminded that we’re “saved by Christ . . . into his body, the church,” and that we glorify God in this world as a body, not simply as individuals.
- In praying for God’s kingdom to come and will to be done, we’re subverting the authority of the powers and principalities of this world, praying that “history would be brought to a close,” that “all the nations rejoice in the glory of God,” and that “every knee bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
- In praying for forgiveness of our debts as we forgive others, we are, essentially, praying the gospel in miniature. “Jesus is teaching sinners, rebels against God, to have the audacity to approach God’s throne . . . and ask for forgiveness.”
- In praying that we not be led into temptation, we’re recognizing the real and constant threat (and appeal) of sin in our lives, our helplessness to resist temptation by our own power, and our dependence on God to empower us to endure temptation to the end.
This shouldn’t be new teaching for us. Indeed, in many ways it isn’t. But to see the Lord’s Prayer in this perspective is refreshing and edifying nonetheless.
Many of us are so familiar with these words that we gloss over their revolutionary meaning. We must return to them again and again, therefore, letting them shape us as we learn what Christ has to teach us through them.
Grace for Today
I wish I could tell you that after reading this book you’ll immediately apply everything you read and that your prayer life will be revolutionized. That you’ll never struggle with praying on autopilot again. But we’ve all heard that promise before, and it always fails to deliver.
Instead, here’s what I can say with confidence. Reading this book may not immediately change your prayer life, but will remind you that in giving you “daily bread” (Matt. 6:11), God gives you the grace to pray obediently and faithfully.
And this might be the point that actually does change something for us. Coming out of The Prayer That Turned the World Upside Down, we shouldn’t make commitments to pray unceasingly for hours on end tomorrow. Instead, we should seek God’s grace to empower us to pray faithfully today. And without a doubt, he will provide it in abundance.