On a huddle call a few weeks ago we were discussing the Lord’s Prayer, talking about how to use it as a tool to help those we lead connect with God in more substantial ways. One person asked an interesting question:
“Why isn’t thanksgiving a part of the Lord’s Prayer?”
Scripture seems to present thanksgiving as a fundamental pattern of interaction with God, so why doesn’t Jesus teach his disciples to pray their thanksgivings? It’s a fascinating question.
But here’s what I wonder: perhaps thanksgiving is more accurately described as an act of worship rather than prayer. The Psalms are drenched in thanksgiving, and they form the basic Scriptural pattern of worship. So there’s worship and there’s prayer.
Which got me thinking about how worship and prayer can perhaps be framed in terms of Covenant and Kingdom (our fundamental theological understanding of the Scriptures). Worship seems to be connected to our covenant relationship with God: We praise, thank, and adore him because of how he has drawn us into relationship with himself. Prayer seems to be connected to our responsibility to represent God as agents of his kingdom: prayer is how we partner with God to see his will done on earth as it is in heaven. Prayer is how God shares his power with us so we can be co-regents with him in exercising his authority.
So if worship is about revelation and response, the revelation is Covenant and Kingdom, and the response is worship and prayer. God reveals his love for us and his acts of salvation that have reconciled us to him, and we respond in worship: thanking him, adoring him, praising him. God reveals his kingdom purposes for us and the good plans he has for his world, and we respond in prayer: partnering with him in the renewal of all things by agreeing with him in prayer.
God invites us to express covenant relationship and kingdom responsibility, and we do so by worship and prayer. Worship in response to covenant, prayer in response to kingdom. Just a little thought for the week.
Love this idea! I'm always categorizing prayer as conversation with God, but there's an element of mission built into it that our post-modern lackadaisical generation HATES. We don't like responsibility, we like response. We don't like novels, we like tweets.
I love the idea of intentionally separating worshipful response from partnering in prayer! They work hand-in-hand, but aren't the same thing…
Ben Sternke says
Glad it was helpful John!
Werner Olivier says
Interesting writing Ben.I want to know if you can also worship through prayer?
Werner Olivier I think that prayer can (and probably should) lead to worship, and vice versa, like overlapping elements of a conversation.
Ah, thank u for that answer. That makes sense… I was thinking on your answer and to expand your thought, prayer is for us; to bring us closer to God and be in communion with Him. Also to bring Him our requests, and the Lord’s Prayer reminds us that we should ask for what we want subject always to His perfect will. We are in submission to His will because He is all knowing, and knows what we need and what is good for us. Everything In the Lord’s Prayer is to remind us of His truths.
God is complete and does not require our thanks, but He did create us for His glory and to worship Him, so it makes sense that our thanksgiving is part of worship to Him, as what He deserves.
I love finding new truths, so thank u for helping me find this little gem ?
Ben Sternke says
Glad you found it helpful! Thanks for sharing your own thoughts as well 🙂