Matthew 6:9-14 “This, then, is how you should pray: Our father in heaven, holy is your name, your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Have you noticed that apart from the historically liturgical branches of the Christian Church very few people use the Lord’s Prayer on a regular basis as a guide in their communion with God? I know I haven’t. Yet, Jesus said “this, then is how you should pray.” Maybe we are missing something. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to pay attention to the guidance of Jesus? Over the last several months I have been praying the Lord’s Prayer in a very specific way, applying each verse to my everyday situations, thoughts, feelings, desires and relationships. There are four themes that I have identified which help me in my approach to this prayer.
Transformation: The invitation for God's kingdom to come is an invitation for God to rule over every part of one’s life. I like to specifically invite God to rule over areas of my life that I am dealing with in the moment – my relationships, circumstances, desires, emotions, and thoughts.
Transformation only takes place through surrender. "Your will be done, on earth - in my life - as it is in Heaven." What am I surrendering to? When I consider what God's will is, I am drawn to Jesus' command - "love one another as I have loved you." The call to love is the greatest expression of doing the will of God. What would happen if we daily prayed that we might love one another? We would be transformed into the likeness of Christ as we surrender everything in us that blocks love.
“Father, I surrender to your active rule in my relationships today (naming them). Come Father and rule over my desires to be loved, over my feelings of (sadness/anger/shame/fear), over my thoughts (name them) and the stories I tell myself about You, others, life and myself. May Your will be done - that I love (key relationships – family, friends, those I struggle with, even enemies) as you love. I welcome heaven’s reality into my life today.”
Growth in Trusting God as our Source: This simple request for God to give us our "daily bread" goes far beyond our need for physical nourishment. Our "daily bread" is representative of everything that God intends to give us through His presence - all that He originally provided in the Garden. Love. Safety. Strength. Worth. Value. Purpose. This prayer can anchor us in the deep reality that He is our Source. This is important because our human tendency is to look outside of ourselves - to others and to circumstances - to give us what we need. Turning our focus to our Heavenly Father and acknowledging that He is the Provider of our deepest longings will liberate us from the frustrations and disappointments of expecting situations and other people in our lives to meet our core needs.
“Father, all of the things I long for – safety, security, affection, worth, strength – I look to you to give me what I need today. I turn to you and let go of my expectations that (specific persons/circumstances) be my focus for meeting these core needs. I acknowledge that it is you that I long for above all else.”
Relational Health and Maturity: "Forgive us as we forgive." We come to God in our brokenness, in our imperfect humanity, acknowledging our need for mercy and grace. There is a correlation between our receiving God's mercy and grace and our willingness to offer it to others. To withhold forgiveness - mercy, compassion, grace - is to demonstrate our own inexperience in receiving what God offers us. The healthiest persons and relationships are those where there is an abundant experience of the love and mercy of God for self - and for others. "We love, because He first loved us."
“Father forgive how I (be specific about your actions, thoughts, words). And I forgive (specific persons) for (specific actions).”
Spiritual Warfare: We acknowledge that there actually is a spiritual battle and it is not against people. It is with forces dedicated to separating us from God, His presence and His love. The consequence? We are divided. The enemy's mission is to destroy by diverting us from God's will - love and unity (John 17). Here is a sobering thought. By yielding to division with one another - or anything contrary to God's will (love) - we are cooperating with evil. Praying for God to deliver us from evil is central to our awareness of the spiritual battle that we all participate in consciously or unconsciously.
“Father, I acknowledge that the people in my life are not my enemies, but they are human and imperfect as I am. You have called me to love and to walk in unity with your people. Deliver me, save me from every divisive thought, judgment, feeling and action (name them specifically) which would keep me from fulfilling your will to love as you love.”
Consider how helpful it could be to follow the urging of Jesus and pray this prayer. I encourage you to personalize this prayer in each of its parts by focusing on the key concerns, people and situations in your life and bring them to your Heavenly Father, who is Love.
Bob is the founder of The Cross Ministry Group and creator of the Men at the Cross and Women at the Cross weekend retreats. He is also the creator of several events for men and women - Living in Truth, Breaking Down the Walls and a series of workshops dealing with loving God with all of our Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength. Bob has a Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts and Master of Arts in Counseling from Denver Seminary in Denver, Colorado.
His passion is to join with others in creating opportunities for people to more fully live out their new selves in Christ and to experience the freedom that comes from God’s grace and truth.