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In teaching his disciples to pray, Jesus provided guidelines for how we are to talk with God. The “Lord’s prayer” (as it is commonly identified), includes insights into what kinds of things we could and should ask and the attitude in which we can approach God.

Jesus said, “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’” (Matthew 6:9-12)

Unpacking this prayer, we last touched on praying for “daily bread.” (See the post, “Do You Ever Ask for ‘Daily Bread’?”) Seeing as God, in grace, does provide for our daily needs (and for the needs of those who don’t even acknowledge his existence!) we might wonder why ask for something he is already committed to doing.

One way to think about asking for what God has already indicated he intends to do can be seen in an account of a moment of prayer found in the book of Acts.

Paul (before his name change from Saul and before he meets Jesus) is on his way to Damascus to arrest and persecute Christians. On the way, he has an encounter with the risen Jesus. It goes without saying that the encounter was life-changing. The persecutor becomes the proclaimer; the opponent of the Gospel becomes a proponent of Jesus and his message. (See the account in Acts 9:1-8.)

Paul is blinded by Jesus in that encounter. He is sent, by the Lord, into the city. And it is while there, awaiting help, that we see a prayer moment that provides some insight.

Jesus appears to a follower of his by the name of Ananias (Acts 9:10-19). Jesus informs Ananias about what has happened to Paul, how he is blind, how Jesus intends to utilize Paul in the future, and also how Jesus wants to heal Paul from his blindness through Ananias. When Ananias arrives where Paul is, he lays hands on him, explains what Jesus has said, and prays for him. And Paul’s eyesight is restored.

Was it Jesus’ intention to heal Paul? Of course Was it the Lord’s desire to heal Paul through Ananias ministry to him? Yes. So when Ananias prayed, he asked the Lord for what the Lord intended . . . but the Lord also intended for the praying, the ministry, to be the means by which both Ananias and Paul experienced all he wanted for them. Ananias asked for what God intended to do–and it was the right thing to do, the appropriate response of dependence upon God.

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