The Lord’s Prayer

Soon after I became a Christian, I was taught to make a daily commitment to praying ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ – the wonderful words of Matthew 6:9-13. I used the prayer to start or end more expansive prayers. I would employ lists to remind me of what I should be thankful for, what I should be praying about and whom I should be praying for. In such a manner, I reflected on the Lord’s Prayer for many years. It slowly occurred to me that each sentence of the prayer lends itself to much deeper exploration. When I say, “Your kingdom come” what do I actually mean? In what ways are my longings as a Christian expressed in those words? How would I like this prayer to be answered in my life and in the lives of the people I meet?

Asking such questions led to a fresh, deeper engagement with my lists of thanks and things and names. Before long, the lists found themselves woven into the Lord’s Prayer itself. In His prayer, the Lord gave us such a thorough and wide-ranging selection of themes, it’s hard to find a prayer need that is not touched upon in some way or another by its words. In every sense, the Lord’s Prayer was teaching me how to pray.

Here are just a few simple thoughts on how to delve a little deeper into the Lord’s Prayer. I hasten to add that a thousand written pages would barely scratch the surface of Jesus’ famous answer to the request: “Lord, teach us to pray.”

 

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name…

The use of the word ‘Father’ is both intimate and respectful. He is our Father and so we’re reminded that our faith is more than an individual calling. We are called to relationship with God and with each other. Such joyful truths prompt worship at the start of the prayer.

Your Kingdom come…

This announces the great hope that, one day, the kingdom of God will be established in all of its fullness. We are also reminded that the Lord chooses us to be a part of His kingdom coming. Here is a lovely opportunity to petition God for family, friends and colleagues who are yet to ask Christ into their lives. We can also commit ourselves to the missionary task (Matthew 28:19-20).

Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven…

Ask for sensitivity to perceive God’s will for your life. In addition to perceiving, ask for strength to be obedient to God’s will. God makes His will known in myriad different ways, but very often through studying Scripture (Ephesians 5:15-17; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Presence and blessing of the Holy Spirit is essential in all aspects of knowing and responding to God’s will (Luke 11:13).

Give us this day our daily bread…

This strongly implies that our prayers should be offered at the start of each day. The prayer for bread is a petition to satisfy both our physical and spiritual needs.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors…

Christ Himself reiterates this part of His prayer. We have a need to be mindful of our own sins and repentant. We have clear call to reflect God’s graciousness by showing forgiveness to those who sin against us. Sometimes, we find it easy to forgive.   Sometimes our ability to forgive grows over many months or years – regular prayer can be a part of this growing ability.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…

It is good to pray for protection for dear ones and for oneself. Perhaps, requests for healing can be included in the broader request to be delivered from evil.  We must also grasp that humans have a tendency to put themselves into situations that might be harmful. We’re sometimes a little slow at grasping the potential dangers of our actions. Emotionally, spiritually, and physically, we can find temptation to sin crouching beside us (Genesis 4:7). How important to ask God to lead us away from this.

 

Having said so much about what we say to God, I feel I must end with a word on what God says to us. Prayer is a divine conversation. Those who pray should expect God to answer. We should actively seek the ‘still small voice’ (1 Kings 19:12) that can whisper into our lives, or the ‘glorious thunder’ (Psalm 29:3) that shakes our world and reveals the will of God.

  1 comment for “The Lord’s Prayer

  1. Robert
    December 3, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    Lead us away from temptation, and deliver us from evil… would be better.

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