Just as no one will try to go to high school before attending grade school, you know that taking the proper first step before you take a second step is critical for success in life. To borrow from a common saying, putting the horse before the cart will produce results and move both the horse and the cart forward, whereas putting the cart before the horse will produce stagnation and reproach from onlookers. Both strategies have the needed resources – the horse and the cart - but faulty sequencing failed to produce the progress that came with correct sequencing.
We see this also in the workplace, especially if you are in a productive industry, one that makes tangible items. I once interacted with a large scale dressmaker and she made it clear that even in making clothes, sequencing was crucial, explaining that it was necessary for her employees to attach the garment sleeve before joining the sides in order to have a great-fitting garment.
In the same way, if you want your life to be productive, you have to pay attention to sequencing. You may have all the resources needed to produce good results and still experience stagnation in your life if your sequencing is faulty. Which is why after teaching His listeners about the Beatitudes (often referred to as Beautiful Attitudes) In Matthew 5, He continued in Matthew 6, by teaching on what has become known as the model prayer in which He taught that the motive and attitude of your prayer is just as important as the content of your prayer, giving us a prayer template when He said “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” (Matt 6:5-7, New King James Version).
He was telling them (and us) that if they pray for show, praying in public and using fancy words or making long prayers, then they should expect their rewards from men, a phenomenon that is becoming quite common as we increasingly expect our rewards from government, looking to our political leaders to solve all our problems instead of praying to God and expecting our rewards from God.
In the next verse, Jesus went on to address the contents of our prayers and it is important to note that He wanted us to start by being kingdom seekers. And that is why the first component of prayer is a kingdom prayer, found in verse 9, Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Our desire is that our Father should be respected and revered by all. His name should be sanctified; He should be deified, not commonized. That is kingdom-mindedness at its highest. Jesus was saying in effect, that in sequencing your requests, you must start with kingdom mindedness.
To be sure we get it, He continued in the next verse by adding two other kingdom components, saying in verse 10,Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. He was teaching that when you desire that God’s name should be revered in all the earth; when your primary desire is that His Kingdom should be manifested right here right now in all our lives and you want His will to be done by all of us, just as it is in Heaven, God knows that you have a mind like His. He is pleased because it is obvious that what concerns Him concerns you and you are finally aligned with God.
This kingdom mindedness, demonstrated in the first 3 points of this prayer, provides the horse power or power train that you require to move your life forward. Unless and until that is in place, your life will not have the needed power to make any progress and stagnation is the result even as you pray endlessly. And unless you know this fact of putting the Kingdom of God first before you make your requests, you may conclude that God is partial when you see Him blessing a man or woman who prays short prayers. The secret is that they have put the Kingdom of God first before asking for their own personal need; they have aligned with God. It is only when you have put Kingdom first that your requests can be answered. Jesus was teaching us the importance of putting first things first.
And not surprisingly, Jesus made it clear that now that your concern for the Kingdom of God is in place, you can finally make your requests known by saying in verse 11, Give us this day our daily bread. He went further to tell us that we have to wipe the slate clean before asking for additional blessings so that those blessings are not fouled up by sin. He taught us in verse 12 to pray in effect,And while we are at it Lord, we know that if you were to mark iniquity, who shall stand, so forgive us and we promise to do the same to those who have offended us the same way we have offended you.
To preserve this cleansing, verse 13 is a logical follow-up, And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. Jesus was teaching us to pray thus, We know you have cleansed us but please do not let the wicked one get his hands on us because the devil is only interested in fouling up our lives all over again, our lives that you have just finished cleansing. Please Lord, don’t let satan succeed in our lives, deliver us from him.
And oh Lord, the only way we can come to you for all this powerful provision of our material blessings (daily bread) this cleansing and this continual deliverance is because we know that the Kingdom that we have been promoting from the start of this prayer is yours as is all power on earth and in heaven and the glory, not only now but for eternity. So let it be (Amen).
Between verses 14 and 32, Jesus held a discourse about all the stuff that we spend our strength trying to amass – stuff like rich food, fine clothes – stuff about which we could spend many a sleepless night. In case they missed the point of correct sequencing and the importance of putting first things first, He reiterated all His teaching on praying in one sentence in summary form as a take away from all this teaching, saying in Matthew 6:33. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
In effect, He was telling them that regardless of which words they used in praying, how long they prayed, what posture they adopted in prayer, their priority should always be the kingdom of God and His righteousness and then all these material stuff, fine clothes, good houses and rich food are stuff they don’t even have to ask for – they will automatically be added to them. That shall be your experience in Jesus' name.