When I reflect on my life and progression as a follower of Jesus, few things show such marked growth as my prayer life. I don’t say that to impress you, let me assure you. My prayer life has highs and lows, lulls and progressions, and even shallowness and depth.
My parents taught me to pray by example. They were a praying set. One of my fondest memories of my dad is hearing him in the prayer room before church, praying in Spanish. Now I often do the same. My early prayers were typically selfish and short, but I imagine God was pleased that I was talking to him at all. As I grew up, I prayed for longer periods of time, with a bit more consistency and more on the behalf of others.
In my teenage years, I heard a message on using The Lord’s Prayer as a pattern in our prayer lives. My prayers have never been the same.
Just think about it, the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus himself responds and says, “pray like this.” Whatever follows the “like this” is pretty important in my book. Jesus wasn’t asking us to recite word for word the prayer time after time. He was giving us an important glimpse into the spiritual realm and how we should be spending our time in communication with God.
Here is my very brief take on using the Lord’s prayer as a pattern. (You can see Matthew 6 and Luke 11 to read the prayer in context.) There is a lot of information on this topic in books and online if you’d like to know more. I also have a printable guide to stick into your Bible. If you’re interested, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Father in heaven
We recognize we are talking to our heavenly father who loves us and wants what is best for us.
We acknowledge this and thank him.
Hallowed be your name
A time for worship and praise.
His name deserves to be glorified.
We enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven
We align ourselves with the plan and purpose of God.
Not my will but yours be done.
Pray for God’s kingdom to come to our lives, our church, & our world.
We desire to glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
Give us this day our daily bread
A time to bring our requests before God.
Recognize he knows what we need before we even ask.
Our requests should align with the plan of God.
And forgive us our debts as we have also forgiven our debtors
Acknowledge any bitterness or anger we are harboring.
Forgive the person and pray for them.
Only then do we repent and ask for forgiveness.
We turn away from our sin toward God.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
Pray for the enemy to have no place in our lives.
Pray for God to empower us to walk in righteousness and holiness.
(Doxology) For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
We can end our prayer with worship and praise.
We ask all in the name of Jesus.
There are a few components of the Lord’s prayer that are important to notice. First, notice the pronouns. Jesus used “our” and “us” instead of “my” and “me.” We should not be selfish in our prayers! Including others in every component of our prayer time allows others to benefit from our prayers. I often pray on behalf of my family, my community, my church and the global church.
As I have matured a bit in my prayer life, I have recognized that most of this pattern in the Lord’s prayer is devoted to getting my heart right. I used to spend so much time praying for my list of wants and needs. Now, I spend the majority of my time in repentance, acknowledging that God is Lord of my life, and aligning my life with HIS purpose and will. When I take the time to get my heart aligned with the plan of God, my requests naturally are in alignment with his will. When I am in a flow of the Spirit during my prayer time, I don’t necessarily have to spend an hour giving God my list of requests. I simply speak them in faith, believing that God knows what I need before I even ask.
There are certainly other forms of prayer, some of which I will cover in a post next week. However, the Lord’s Prayer is what I come back to time after time in my prayer life. I pepper in meditation, journaling, intercession, common prayers, and praying Scripture, but the majority of my prayer time follows this simple yet profound pattern. Who, after all, is more qualified to teach us to pray than Jesus himself?
What about you? Do you use the Lord’s Prayer as a pattern during your prayer time? What other forms of prayer do you practice? I would love your feedback!
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