I haven't ever really understood the “Lord's Prayer,” as it's called. It seemed so wrote and insincere to me before.
Until recently, that is, when I have found it difficult to pray. I have wanted to pray, but i've had a really hard time getting going.
My radio station does this thing they call “Pray Down at High Noon.” All that means is that every day at noon, they stop their normal programming, and someone, intending to lead the listening audience, prays the “Lord's Prayer” on the air.
One day, I happened to be near the radio for the Pray Down, and I prayed along. The next morning when I wanted to pray, I started with “Our Father.” I've been using the Lord's example prayer for a couple of weeks now.
You know, what has come to be known as the “Lord's Prayer,” was how Jesus instructed His disciples on the matter of how to pray. I think it was meant to be a guide. And finally, 30-something years after I first asked Jesus to live in my heart, His example prayer is starting to make sense.
Would you like to see?
Follow along in Matthew 6.
“Our Father , who is in Heaven, hallowed be Your name.”
I'm really glad that Jesus started out this way. This line sets the stage. First, it helps me to get my mind off of me and reminds me to whom I pray. It reminds me of His greatness, and it is my opportunity to let go of my worries and worship Him. It can also remind me that He to whom I pray is fully able to answer my prayers.
“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”
This line is SO big!
What happens in God's kingdom? God's will is done! In Heaven, everyone follows God's rules, God's will! This is my opportunity to surrender my will to God's and to pray for all of the “kingdoms” in the earth. I usually start with the “kingdom” of my heart. It gets bigger from there. I ask for God's kingdom to come in my marriage, then in my house, then in my family, then in my workplace, then in my church, then in my local government, then in my state, then in my country, then in my president and my governor, then in this earth.
This line could take an awfully long time.
“Give us this day our daily bread.”
I'm no theologian. But I can tell you that this line reminds me to be thankful. I have my daily bread and so much more! This line leads me to praise and thanks and get a very grateful heart for the luxurious provision I have been afforded.
“And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
I almost always add a clause to this one. “And please help us to be constant forgivers.” I love that Jesus led us to pray a prayer that keeps us accountable. Jesus was very clear that we don't get to accept the forgiveness of God and then hold grudges against our fellow man for the comparably completely insignificant debts that we may feel others owe to us. It's an interactive contract, that one. This verse reminds me to humble myself and leads me to ask for help.
“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
This one stands on its own and is often prayed through welling up tears.
“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
I love that this prayer ends giving glory to and surrendering dominion to the Father God. I also find that by the time I get to the end of this prayer, my heart has changed, and I have realized that the importance of the eleven other things I was going to ask God for, besides my daily bread, shrinks away. It seems like everything is covered. My heart has surrendered to the will of God and has been assured of His love and His greatness. I have asked for His will in every facet of my life. I have been reminded of my responsibility and my need for the Lord to give me His grace to fulfill it. And I have been reminded that I am a debtor and a transgressor who has been, and constantly is, forgiven by God. After a prayer to be kept from evil and a final surrender to His authority, i'm just not thinking about every little personal want anymore. I am simply assured in my heart that He hears. And as my day goes on, and I probably do pray for those little things, my heart has been prepped, back here at the Lord's prayer, so that my requests more closely resemble His desires for me.