Mar
07

Simple Lessons from The Lord’s Prayer

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Prayer can feel like a 1,000 piece puzzle sometimes. Religious systems, spiritual leaders, the enemy of our souls, and even our own prideful ways of thinking whisper in our ears that God must certainly require prayer to be difficult. Could we really pray well in less than 75 words?

 
Perhaps we wouldn’t articulate such thoughts but they are there nonetheless, lurking around in our minds hindering us, causing us to falter, hesitate, and feel a lack of confidence whenever we approach God in prayer.  Yet Jesus took time to teach his followers a simple prayer as recorded in Matthew 6 and Luke 11. Whenever we read His prayer we often think, “Wait, surely that’s not all there is to prayer. It can’t be that simple.” The simplicity of it leaves us feeling as if we are 990 pieces short of finishing the puzzle and there are no puzzle pieces left in our box.
 
Jesus teaching flies in the face of our need for self-importance. To pray what we’ve entitled, “The Lord’s Prayer” and then believe that we’ve really prayed seems, well, insufficient, unholy, and unspiritual. We often end fearing that we didn’t quite get it done.  There is a certain feeling of being out of control. Beneath such thinking is an underlying belief that we work in order to have a good standing with God.
 
And yet, Jesus said that we should not think we will be heard for our “much speaking”.
 
I want to pause at this point and clarify. There are times to pray longer. Jesus often drew away to pray all night. He agonized in the Garden. Paul told us that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous person accomplishes much” (James 5:16).
 
Paul further instructed the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that they were to “Pray without ceasing,” and taught us all that prayer is to be a natural part of our life as we live with a constant communion with our Father.
 
So with those truths in mind, how could Jesus give us a short, simple prayer as a model? What lessons does this prayer teach us?
 
The Word of God is living (Hebrews 4:12) and inexhaustible, and I am not attempting to teach anything remotely comprehensive about what this prayer means. I do want to share a few simple things that this prayer teaches us.
 
1. God is our Father; my Father, your Father, and the Father of all mankind and all creation. It’s about more than just me, and yet it is completely about me.
 
2. We need to pause and acknowledge God as our Father. It’s important to connect to Him personally.
 
3. Our Father is a heavenly Father and is not confined to being the kind of father that we have had here on the earth.
 
4. It’s important to take time to pause and honor God; one way to do that is to honor His name.
 
5. The kingdom of God is bigger than me and my little world. Praying “Your kingdom come” is a way to humble our hearts and connect with God’s bigger purposes.
 
6. God has a will, a plan, that is being done in heaven and that we should pray would be done here on earth. Engaging God’s heart in prayer includes laying down our personal agendas and submitting to His will and engaging His kingdom.
 
7. It’s about today. The present moment. Prayer connects us to the grace we need for today. The sufficiency of daily grace.
 
8. God is our provider. All good and perfect gifts come from Him, including our daily food and beyond that, all the things that have to do with our life and our godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
 
9. We need God’s forgiveness, for salvation and for all of the ways we find ourselves indebted because of sin.
 
10. Asking for our own forgiveness reminds us that everyone struggles, has weaknesses, sins, is wounded in some way, and that we need to offer to others the same grace and forgiveness God so mercifully gives to us. Our need for forgiveness of sins finds us all on level ground at the cross and it’s really good to remember that.
 
11. Jesus had experienced being led into the wilderness to be tested, tempted, by the enemy and ended that experience being full of the Spirit (Matthew 4:1-11). Yet the experience itself was intense, exhausting, challenging, demanding, trying, and yes, tempting. It’s a wise thing to ask God to not lead us into such times. Nevertheless, not my will but His be done (Luke 22:42; Matthew 29:36).
 
12. It is appropriate to pray for protection and deliverance from the plans of the evil one but that is just one small part of a daily prayer and perhaps should come after we have connected to God’s presence, power and plans. 
 
13. Ultimately, it’s all about God’s kingdom and His power and His glory, not ours.
 
14. The final amen releases our cares to God and acknowledges that we must humble ourselves before Him and let go of our illusions of any kind of control beyond what He has entrusted to us through prayer. With this in mind, let’s pray…
 
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen (Matthew 6:9-13)
 
 

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Categories : prayer, the Word of God

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