When Jesus’s disciples implored Him to teach them how to pray, He responded with a simple yet profound prayer whose words are still spoken by Christians worldwide today. The Lord’s Prayer–as it came to be known–remains the central prayer of the Christian faith and transcends denominations, nationalities, and preferred modes of worship.
In today’s post, Bethany McMillon demonstrates that it’s also a powerful way for God to get through to us.
My shoulders sagged and my eyes brimmed with tears. The light from the evening sun revealed dusty floors and crumbs on the counter. My hands jerked through each motion of cooking, serving, and cleaning up dinner. With each clank of plate against plate, shifting and uneasy thoughts shook my soul: Everyone has everything a little better. Everyone has more fun with their children, more time with their husbands, better relationships with friends, better jobs, better physical bodies, better houses... The endless list ate away at my heart.
I shoved the last spoon into the dishwasher and haughtily announced I was taking the dog for a walk. I grabbed her leash and headed out the door, nearly slamming it behind me. Yanking the leash to turn down our familiar path, I wearily hoped the sunshine, fresh air, and quiet would warm the chill in my heart. As I rounded the corner, my tumultuous thoughts turned to tears. The tears morphed into prayers. Instead of my usual thank you for this and that and requests for him or her, the familiar phrases of the Lord’s Prayer met the rhythm of my steps.
“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” (Matthew 6:9:13, KJV).
As I walked, I cycled through the phrases again and again, until the cries of my heart began to pour out:
Lord, You are great and mighty, worthy and holy but love me as Your own. You call me Beloved.
“Which art in heaven…”
Lord, You are the God of everything—the biggest mountain and the smallest hurt. You know Your plan for me. You know my heart. You know my desires. You see all of time and space. And yet You see me.
“Hallowed be thy name…”
Lord, You are endlessly glorious. I love You because You are You. You are a holy and just and merciful God.
“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven…”
Lord, You know the cries of my heart before they are even formed on my lips. You know my thoughts before I even think them. I pray that my thoughts will be Your thoughts, and my life would be lived for You. I pray my steps will be along Your path and my actions would reflect Your love.
“Give us this day our daily bread…”
Lord, you are the Great Provider. You know my needs before I do. I continue to ask for wisdom and for insight for the future, but You provide what I need for today. If You provide for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, how much more do You provide for me?
“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.…”
My steps quickened to a run. Lord, jealousy has stolen my contentment and begun to consume my heart. It has robbed me of the joy and comfort that You give. I am sorry, Lord. Forgive my jealousy of families and marriages and jobs and careers and houses and time and talents and friendships. Lord, please replace my jealousy with joy and peace that can only be provided by You and through You.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…”
Lord, You have promised Your perfect peace and Your light yoke if I come to You. I fall before You, Lord. Protect my heart and the hearts of those in my family.
“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever…”
Lord, You are most high and all-powerful. Your Holy Spirit lives in me and works in me.
As I prayed, I heard the whisper of God’s Word: “Do not be anxious for anything. Come to Me with prayer and petition. Come to Me with thanksgiving. Present your requests to Me. My peace will guard your heart. Focus on what is true, what is noble, what is right, what is pure, what is lovely, what is admirable” (Philippians 4:6-8, paraphrased).
My feet slowed. My face lifted to the heavens. The sun and cool breeze, a gentle caress from the hand of my Father, dried my tears. Where my soul had been unsettled, His peace now reigned. Where my eyes had looked with jealousy, gratitude overflowed. Where my heart was filled with longing, His sustaining love swelled. I opened the front door. The light from the evening sun glowed a warm spotlight on my growing-too-fast-boy snuggled up into the crook of his father’s arm. All-consuming truth echoed through my spirit.
I am Beloved. They are Beloved. You are Beloved.
Using the Lord’s Prayer as Part of Your Daily Prayer Routine
While some Christians through history and today have taken Jesus’s instruction to pray in this way literally—praying the exact words of the Lord’s prayer daily or as part of their Sunday church services—taking a broader interpretation allows us to use it as a guideline for shaping our own prayers.
As Bethany’s prayer indicates, we can adapt and expand on each line of the Lord’s Prayer in situations where we want to personalize our prayers more.
There are four primary types of prayer represented in the Lord’s Prayer, which are often summarized with the acronym, ACTS.
1. Adoration – acknowledge who God is and what He has done, both in our own lives and in all of Creation; worship Him, for he is worthy of all praise (Rev. 4:11)
2. Confession – acknowledging our own sin and bringing it before God with a repentant heart (1 John 1:19)
3. Thanksgiving – recognizing God as the provider of everything we have and giving thanks (1 Thes. 5:18)
4. Supplication – bringing our requests before God (Phil. 4:15)
Whether you pray the Lord’s prayer directly as part of your morning prayer time or use it as a guideline for a deeper time of prayer, we know that God always values hearing from us, no matter what words we use.
For more resources on prayer, check out some of these articles:
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Our scripture memory cards would be a great addition to your prayer practice. Use them to write down and memorize your favorite scriptures, such as the Lord’s Prayer, then pray over them during your quiet times with the Lord.
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