Personally Praying the Lord's Prayer
The Lord's Prayer is a biblical treasure we may take for granted because of its familiarity. We often recite it by rote, rather than pray it. The Lord's Prayer can warm our hearts devotionally, enrich our relationship with God, and aid our intercession. God has expanded my understanding of this jewel as I pray it often for myself and for others. The treasures of this prayer are both fresh and familiar (Matt. 13:52). It is refreshing, encouraging, and insightful. It is the greatest prayer taught by the greatest Person. It starts with the greatest, most personal title for God, our Father.
Praying the Lord's prayer, not just saying it, can jumpstart a sluggish devotional life and take our prayer lives to a new level. These words of Jesus rich in personal application transform us from the inside out. Ask God for the gift of reading slowly. These 60-plus words are worth a lifetime of meditation and application in prayer. What could be more powerful than Christ-modeled prayer?
The Lord's prayer highlights relationships of prayer: child to Father, worshiper to holy God, subject to King in his throne room, servant to Master, beggar to Provider, sinner to Savior, follower to Guide, dependent one to Protector, and subject to Sovereign Glory. This prayer reflects intimacy in family relationship, reverence for the Name above all names, submission to the sovereignty and will of the King, total dependence and reliance on the Giver of every good gift, cleansing from sin by our Redeemer, victory over temptation and ultimate triumph over the evil one by our Deliverer, and the power and glory of our eternal Lord of lords.
The Lord's prayer contains a focus of worship, a concise petition for basic physical needs, a standard of forgiveness, and urgent pleas for protection. It contains all the elements for a "Minimum Daily Requirement" prayer (worship, yielding to God's purposes, guidance, petition, forgiveness, victory over sin, victory in spiritual warfare, and focus on the magnificence of God). On the other hand, it is more than minimum and has limitless opportunities for expansion. God will bring to mind other parts of his Word that we can meditatively bring to bear on each of the index sentences of the prayer. It covers every aspect of life: relationship with God, with others, and to the forces of spiritual warfare that oppose us each day.
Meditate on it before you get out of bed in the morning and throughout the day. It is completely portable. Isn't this better than idle thoughts, fears, past failures, future worries, and whatever else usually occupies our souls during those otherwise mentally-unemployed times?
My goal is to inspire us all to refresh our prayer lives and go to a new depth by talking to God many times throughout the day. Engaging God in conversation will be a great pleasure to his heart and will change our lives. We touch God, like a squeeze of our hand in his, and equally important, he touches us back where we are, here and now.
For example, last week end I was struck by the word "hallowed," which we rush over because we don't feel its full weight. It means "holy." As I thoughtfully turned this phrase over in my heart and my spirit, I stood dumbstruck in awe of God. I asked, "God, who are you in your holiness? And how completely different are you than my wildest thoughts? Your holiness is not my concept of the purest I can imagine raised to the highest degree. Your holy delight is not just my most ecstatic moment taken to the nth degree. You are totally other. I cannot get my heart around such 'otherness.' " As Tozer said, "God is not the best we know infinitely bettered." So I asked, "Who are you?" and I thought of the statement of Jesus to Phillip, "Don't you know me, even after I have been with you such a long time?" (John 14:9).
Pray the Lord's Prayer afresh for yourself, as if for the first time, savoring every phrase and opening yourself to every word. Like this:
Our Father: Abba, I belong to you. You are my intimate Papa. That's the truth from which I live and breathe today.
Who is in heaven: You are the I AM, the same yesterday, today, and every day. All Your promises are now, Yes and Amen.
Hallowed be Your name: Show yourself holy this day of my life in my thoughts, motives, conversations, and actions toward others. Let me not disgrace your holiness. By Your wonderful names, show me that You are the peace that I need, the victory I want, the guiding security I long to feel, the Daystar in dark times.
Your kingdom come: Reign in my life as You rule heaven. Come as King in righteousness, joy, and peace in the Holy Spirit.
Your will be done on earth: Be done, will of God, for Jesus lives in me delighting to do Your will. In my heart and my tasks, do Your will as it is perfectly done in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread: Let me remember who puts the food on my table and gives me the breath I breathe. You are my moment-by-moment strength for each step I take.
Forgive me my sins as I forgive those who sin against me: I want to tear up the IOUs I am holding because of wrongs against me. I want to keep short accounts, holding no offenses and no unforgiveness.
Lead me not into temptation: I don't want to act out of my weakness or wounded flesh, which is no excuse, just a plea for more of Your grace. Where sin and the need for healing abound, Your grace much more abounds.
Deliver me from evil: Protect me from physical and spiritual harm, because greater are You in me than my adversary who is in the world.
Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory: I bow to Your sovereign control. You have all power and all ability to do all things well, and I want Your glory to take the credit for every answer. Amen.
Speak with God often, using the "model prayer" of Jesus as your guide.