I remember it well. Sitting cross-legged in my navy pleated skirt on the cold and slightly sticky wooden flooring in my elementary school in the North of Scotland, UK. 300 of us mournfully repeated the prayer every morning. The Lord’s Prayer. Possibly the most well known piece of Biblical scripture of all time. Recited in schools and churches across the Earth, we follow our Saviour’s lead as He taught us how to pray. But when was the last time you really thought about what the words mean - and how they can significantly change your life....
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
On earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
As we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.
For Yours is the kingdom, the power,
And the glory are yours
Now and for ever.
As a child, I stared out of the window as we mumbled our way through it - wondering, probably, if there would be custard for pudding today.
Fast forward 30 years and I’m unpacking this prayer like never before. Seeing things I never realise existed. Finding Truth right there in the Words of Life. Have you ever noticed how every unanswerable question ever asked is tucked and folded into those few short lines - I am sure of it. Look:
Our Father: "Who is ‘God'?" - He is our Father.
In Heaven: "Where is God?" - He is above us all and everywhere.
Hallowed by Your Name: "Is God Good?" - He is hallowed, honourable.
Your Kingdom come: "Why are we here?" To fill the Earth and subdue it.
Your will be done: "How will we know right from wrong?" His will is what is right.
On Earth as in Heaven: "Has the Creator left us alone?" No, he is here, as He is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread: "How will we survive?" He provides for all our needs.
Forgive us our sins: "Will He accept us?" Yes, our sins are forgivable.
As we forgive those who sin against us: "What will bring justice?" Forgiveness. Grace.
Lead us not into temptation: "What does God want me to do?" He leads us to good things.
But deliver us from Evil: "Can God help me?" Yes, He can save us from harm.
For Your is the Kingdom: "Why does God love me?" Because you’re part of His family.
The power: "Is God powerful?" Yes, now and always.
And the glory: "What's the point of life?" He is the point of everything we experience.
Now and forever, Amen: "What if He changes?" Nothing will change these Truths. Nothing.
It’s truly astounding to think about how much Truth Jesus managed to cram into this short, succinct model prayer. If ever you're not sure where to start with praying. Start with Jesus' example - you will not go wrong!
Jesus said “pray LIKE this”. Not long winded. Not doubting. Addressing Him as if He is able to do all things - because He is. Entrusting our lives to His sense of justice and timing - not ours. Always holding fast to our secure place in His heart of hearts.
When I think about how I pray. My prayers range right across the spectrum from monosyllabic ‘HELP Lord!’ to what can only be described as a blethering ramble. And I think God’s ok with all of that because He just loves to hear our hearts. He just loves it when we come and sit at His feet and tell Him about our day. Of course He already knows. Of course He saw it all coming from an eternity away - but still, He just wants to be near you. But not only is the Lord’s prayer hugely comforting, but our prayers take on a whole ‘nutha level of boldness when we use Jesus’ model… Just look at how demanding it is!
Do this Lord! Do that! This is who You are! I expect You to be with me! Keep me safe! Help me be kind! Don’t leave me to it!
For all my confidence in God, and myself - I am certainly not at that level of demanding from God. Not yet. It seems terribly un-British. What if I’m asking too much? Before asking for things, do I need to butter God up first with some worship songs and appreciation? Hmmm, not according to Jesus. He already knew who His Father was. He had seen His power establish all of creation. He already knew that God was eager to hear His prayer, and answer Him. He already knew that God can do all things, impossible things, miraculous things. No butter required.
So how about we start praying from that point right there?
Wouldn’t our prayers sound different!
More sure. More passionate. More determined. More full of faith.
I have just finished reading the wonderful ‘Fervent’ book by the unstoppable Priscilla Shirer. If you haven’t read it yet - please do. It’s very readable, down-to-earth - and yet will stretch your prayer life Heavenward. Priscilla doesn’t miss and hit the wall. She will tell you why your prayers are flopping about out there. She will explain why we need to step it up a bit because the Enemy is very real.
Don’t let the Enemy, or shyness or lack of vocabulary shut your prayers down.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Priscilla’s book:
“..once you’ve tasted the bold, intense flavours of fervent prayer, the blandness of living with anything less than pure freedom and intimacy with God is almost more than you can stand.“
Over to you. What’s on your prayer list? Who is pounding on your heart, needing your voice reaching to heaven on their behalf? What situation is drilling a hole in your family, your finances, your hopes and dreams? Bring it all. Bring it all before God. Be passionate about your needs - because He is! Be demanding of your God and don’t think for one minute that He cannot accomplish whatever we ask in faith.
Are you ready to change it up? Are you ready to revolutionise your prayer life? Let’s get to work. Let’s go to war. Let’s unwrap this power gift which we’ve left to gather dust for far too long.
Watch out devil. We’re lowering to our knees. We’re opening our mouths. We’re taking it to the King. And nothing can stop us.
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