For most of my Christian life, prayer has been more of a duty than a joy. Maybe you are like me and have had these kinds of thoughts while praying:
- Hmmm…That didn’t take very long, I must be doing something wrong, what else can I say?
- I know God wants to hear my thoughts but I feel guilty asking for so many things.
- Wait… Shouldn’t I pray for some missionaries or something?
- Ohhh… I’m sure I have sin to confess but I’m running short on time, I’ll deal with that next time.
- If God knows what I need before I ask him, why do I need to pray?
- Oh ya, I remember hearing that I should pray for my child’s future spouse, I guess I’ll do that now.
- What was that formula for prayer again? Adoration, Confession, Supplication….I know I am missing one…
- I really love my friends, I guess I should pray for them right, ok, what do they need?
- Wait…Did I just fall asleep again?
Prayer is hard. It’s hard work to prioritize your schedule. It’s challenging to quiet your phone and your mind. Even after you have persevered and have managed to sit down and get quiet before the Lord, a million uninvited thoughts plow through your mind. Prayer is difficult. It’s an ongoing battle to stay focused. Especially when little people are poking their fingers under your bedroom door and begging for juice.
I believe Jesus understood our difficulties with prayer and that is why he said, “When you pray, pray like this” (Matt 6:9) …he actually meant it.
For a year now I have been using the Lords Prayer as the template for my daily prayers. It has been a huge blessing and revolutionized my prayer life. As I lie down in my quiet place, I take time to meditate on each word of the Lord’s Prayer. As I focus on a word it primes the pump, so to speak, and prayer begins to flow. As I follow the format of the Lords's prayer I am led through the progression of the gospel. Each statement brilliantly flows into the next. My prayer resounds as a glorious symphony of worship, gratitude, repentance, and surrender. My heart overflows with joy as my life is laid bare in surrender before him.
Also, if I happen to loose my train of thought or get interrupted, I can recall the last phrase I focused on and more easily get back on track.
I am grateful that Holy Spirit has helped me take Jesus’ words about prayer to heart. The drudgery has vanished and joy has emerged. This prayer has given me a humble confidence as I pray, because I know that if I am following Jesus example I am doing it right. It is amazing what happens when we actually listen and obey Jesus words.
Walking through the Prayer
Great spiritual teachers throughout the centuries have taught that the first thing you should do when you start to pray is stop. Put your hand over your mouth and pause. Be still for a moment, reflect, and remind yourself who it is that you are approaching. Perhaps, this would be a good practice for us.
"But if you want to make contact with God, and if you want to feel His everlasting arms about you, put your hand upon your mouth for a moment. Recollection! Just stop for a moment and remind yourself of what you are about to do." – David Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Below I will offer a brief summary of the significance of each phrase in the prayer then offer a sample of what praying that phrase with it in mind might look like.
“Ours” reminds me that I am not an only child but part of God’s eternal family.
God, I praise you because you have chosen a family for yourself and have rescued us out of the kingdom of darkness. Thank you that I am one of your children, even though I am rebellious and didn’t want to be saved, you pursued me still. God, I look forward to the day when your family will live together, with pure hearts, on the new earth with you.
“Father” reminds me that God is my real and better father.
God, I praise you because you will never disappoint me, loose your cool with me, or fail to teach me an important lesson. God, you are my real father, you designed me before time began. You know the number of hairs on my head. You know me better than I know myself, you even know my words before I speak them.
“In Heaven” reminds me how massive God is.
God, you are my father and you sit enthroned above the earth. You have stretched out the night sky like a curtain and hold the oceans in the palm of your hand. Father, you designed the universe and spoke it into existence. Your wisdom and knowledge is unfathomable. You formed the intricacies of my D.N.A as well as galaxies, upon galaxies, upon galaxies. Father, you are all knowing, all powerful, and perfectly good. You are the only one who is completely trustworthy. There is no one greater than you and no one can thwart your plans.
HALLOWED BE THY NAME
WHOA! By the time I get to this line I want to shout.
God, may your greatness be echoed throughout the universe. May you receive the fame and praise and honor you deserve. Father, I look forward to the day when every knee will bow before Jesus and confess that he is Lord, for your glory and fame.
YOUR KINGDOM COME
“Your kingdom come” reminds me that life on earth right now is the opposite of your kingdom. All creation is broken and there is tremendous suffering because of the fall. It is horrendous and God’s heart is broken.
Father, send Jesus back to earth. Please send him now to put things right again. Come Jesus, so that justice may be served and you will get the praise you deserve. Please come so that my rebellious heart will be made right. Please come so that death, suffering, and rebellion against you will come to an end. Father I look forward to the day when Jesus crushes Satan, when the hearts of your people are made perfect and the earth is made new. I look forward to the time when we will be together in joyous obedience under your gracious and generous reign.
YOUR WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN
“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” reminds me that God’s timing for Jesus’ return is perfect and that there is still more work that needs to be done.
Father, I ask that your will be done on earth. That your people will be transformed by the power of the gospel. That your people will love and serve you, that the church will become a great light and the lost will see you and desire to know you. Lord, lead us to the people in our city whose hearts have been softened by your Spirit. So that they may hear the good news that their sins can be forgiven. I ask that gospel-centered churches would be planted across Alaska and around the world. Please, raise up faithful gospel-centered elders to lead your people. Father, help me to be obedient and be a good steward of all that you have entrusted to me. Empower me by your Spirit, help me to be pure in heart, and live out your will on earth.
GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD
“Give us this day our daily bread” reminds me that it seems silly now to ask my all powerful, all knowing, and good Father for anything. My small needs suddenly appear trivial. But God tells us to present our concerns to him, so I will.
Oh Father, may my deepest desire be to do your will. Would that be my sustenance to obey you. Father, I ask that you will provide for our medical expenses. I trust your ways. Father, I ask that you will keep our cars running. We depend on you for everything. Father, I ask that my children’s heart’s will be miraculously transformed by the power of the gospel. I commit them into your hands. Father, you are the one who owns all things and you know what I need even before I ask. I trust my needs to your wisdom.
AND FORGIVE US OUR SINS
“And forgive us our sins” reminds me how desperately I need a savior, suddenly the depth of my sin is overwhelming.
Father, my heart is darker than I can ever imagine. Please show me where I have disobeyed you today? Show me my patterns of sin that I am blinded to. Oh,God my sins of omission our fathomless. I admit that I have failed to steward every deed, thought, word, possession, and relationship for your glory today. Father, I praise you because my life is hidden in Christ and when you look at me you see Jesus. Otherwise, I could not stand before you.
AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO HAVE SINNED AGAINST US
“As we forgive those who have sinned against us” reminds me of how much I have been forgiven by God. In light of that, how can I not forgive others who sin against me?
Father, show me if there is anyone who I am bitter or angry against. I forgive them. I can’t hold it against them. You hold nothing against me.
LEAD US THROUGH TEMPTATION
“Lead us through temptation” reminds me how weak and vulnerable I am to deception.
Father, lead me through the temptation to make much of myself. Father, lead me through the temptation to find the good life outside of you. Father lead me through my love of comfort, show me where I am deceived, and how your ways are better. Thank you for your faithfulness in leading me through past temptations. I praise you Jesus because you were tempted in every way just like me, but you did not sin!
DELIVER US FROM EVIL
“Deliver us from evil” reminds me that we live in the already and not yet. We live between D-day and V-day. Jesus has secured the victory, but the battle still rages on.
Father, I live in a fallen world, please protect my family. Protect us from the attacks of the evil one. Protect us from the evil actions of others. Protect us from sickness and disease. Protect us from natural disasters. Please protect our hearts, bodies, home, property, and online presence. Father, I surrender to your will and your ways. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Tracy Richardson (@alaskagospelgrl) serves at Radiant Church in Fairbanks, Alaskaas the Church Planters Wife. She loves to study scripture, throw parties, and run trails. She has a B.S.S. in Fine Art and Literature. She is also Mamma Bear to two wild cubs.