If Jesus, the One who invented the very concept of prayer, tells us how we are to pray, then we should probably listen! And that is exactly what He does in these verses. If we take the words of James 5:16b seriously, that "The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working," then we would do well to heed Jesus' example of how to pray.
Notice the priority of Jesus' model prayer: it begins with the focus on God. The prayer of a righteous person should be concerned with God's glory before any earthly need. That does not mean we neglect needs. The Bible is clear that we should ask our Father in heaven (we will see that in Matthew 7). But the primary concern of God's people should be God's glory. Hence, the first words of the Lord's Prayer: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name."
The word "hallowed" simply means to be "made holy." What we are asking when we pray this is that the name of God would be valued above all other names. It makes us ponder the question, "do we value God's name?" Do we value everything about Him? And this is really what the rest of the Lord's Prayer flows out of: that God would be magnified above all else! John Piper says it like this:
"Nothing is more clear and unshakeable to me than that the purpose of the universe is for the hallowing of God's name. His kingdom comes for that. His will is done for that. Humans have bread-sustained life for that. Sins are forgiven for that. Temptation is escaped for that."
If this is our primary concern, then our prayers will be God-focused rather than man-focused. That naturally leads to the next focus of Jesus' Prayer: "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." As people of the kingdom, praying to the King, we get to unashamedly ask for His kingdom to come. We want Jesus' kingdom to come today and reign within our own hearts. We are in a spiritual war in the cosmic battle of the universe. And Christ, our Victor, while He has won the victory, is still waiting to bring about the ultimate consummation of that victory. So, we pray both that the kingdom of Christ would come in our own lives today, and that it would come quickly and spread abroad across the face of the earth. In praying this way, we are completely entrusting our lives to King Jesus and His rule and reign over the universe.
I hope we see how essential it is for believers to pray this way. We will look at the rest of this prayer next week. But it is important that we base all of our prayers on the glory of God and His kingdom. When these concepts grasp our minds and hearts in prayer, then we will begin to grasp what the prayer life of a righteous person looks like.
May that be true for us all. Lord, teach us to pray like this!