Game plan for prayer: submit to God’s rule

June 17, 2024
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by Shannon Caughey

In my conversations with coaches about an upcoming game or meet, it’s not unusual for the coach to say something like, “If everything goes the way I want, we’ll be in good shape.” This is a common perspective: we hope for everything to go the way we want, and we work toward getting things to go the way we want—not only in coaching but in life more broadly. I’m certainly prone toward this mindset.

The same perspective can influence how we pray: “Lord, here’s what I want you to do. Here’s how I want you to work.” God invites us to honestly share with him our desires and our perspective. He is our Father who loves us and cares deeply about all that is on our hearts. Because he loves us, God is also transforming us from the inside out so that we’ll increasingly live out his good design for us in all ways. God’s transformational work includes reshaping our desires and perspective, and that will impact how we pray. 

We see the impact in the teaching of Jesus on prayer. In this series of devotions, we’re looking at what is often called “The Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6:9-13. Jesus gives us a game plan for prayer. His intent is not that we must use these exact words every time we pray, nor is he saying that we can only pray about the items found in these verses. Jesus’ purpose is to provide a framework. As we consistently apply this framework to how we pray, we’ll grow in prayer and grow in embracing the desires and perspective that reflect God’s good design for us.

In the last devotion, we discussed the beginning of the Lord’s prayer: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (v. 9). Let’s now move to the next thing Jesus directs us to pray (v. 10): “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” God’s “kingdom” refers not primarily to a place but to his rule as King. “Heaven” is the dimension of God’s order in which his reign as King is fully realized. Heaven is a not just a future place those who have put their trust in Christ go after they die. Heaven is a present reality, even if it is often veiled from sight. 

A right understanding of “your kingdom” and “heaven” helps us grasp how Jesus tells us to pray. As his followers, we are to pray that those on earth would increasingly submit to and experience God’s loving and righteous rule as our King—just as all in heaven already fully submit to and experience his reign. It’s a prayer borne out of the conviction that “we’ll be in good shape” not if everything goes the way we want but as everything goes the way God wants. It’s only when God’s reign as King comes and God’s will for our lives is done that we’ll experience the goodness, joy, beauty, and wholeness he intends for us as his dearly-loved children.

When we pray this part of the framework Jesus gives, we are expressing our desire to submit to the Lord’s rule over all areas of our life: coaching, relationships, family, work, leisure activities, etc. We’re praying, “God, you are my King. Reign over all of who I am and all that I do. I want my every thought, word, action, and interaction to be led by you and bring honor to you.”

As we pray according to this desire that God’s kingdom come and his will be done, we’re also asking that the gospel—the good news of what God through Christ has done, is doing, and will do—would increasingly take hold in the lives of those around us. Jesus, the Son of God, came not only to save us from our sin but also to be our Lord and King. We long to see fellow coaches, athletes, and others in our sphere of influence surrender in faith to King Jesus. “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” is a commitment to being channels through which the gospel goes forth and the Lord’s reign is made known.

Coach, consider what could happen in your life and through your life as you consistently implement this dimension of Jesus’ game plan for prayer. When you pray for greater submission to God’s rule, you’re expressing a desire to see more of the goodness, joy, beauty, and wholeness that comes when his reign takes hold in us and others. You’re praying for the gospel of King Jesus to transform the lives and eternities of those around us. You’re praying for things to go the way our loving, righteous, and perfectly wise God wants.

For reflection: Take a few minutes to pray for God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Pray for greater submission to the Lord’s reign in your own life. Pray for this to also happen in the lives of others in your sphere of influence.



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