Our Father … How the Lord’s Prayer can deepen your prayer life BY MAJOR RITA PITTMAN
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ow is your prayer life? If we are honest, most of us would admit there are days when we have trouble finding time to pray. Work, church, school, family, relationships—we are always doing. Finding time to be with God can seem like an impossible task. But communication is vital to keep any relationship healthy and growing—can you imagine a friendship where you never talk to the person? Our relationship with our heavenly Father deserves to be nurtured above all others. Some time ago, I read Praying the Lord’s Prayer for Spiritual Breakthrough by Dr. Elmer Towns. He asked a question that captivated me: “What would you say if you were ushered into the throne room of God, with only one minute to request everything you needed, but didn’t know how to put it into words?” The answer: the prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray (see Matthew 6:9-13). If you are having difficulty finding a time and place to pray, the Lord’s Prayer can be a springboard to a deeper and more disciplined daily prayer life. It gives us a model for how to pray any time and anywhere. It begins with worship, then asks for forgiveness, guidance and protection, then claims victory in an all-powerful God. Towns examines each line of the prayer, revealing lessons that will enable Christians to experience a more dynamic prayer life: Our Father in heaven. We recognize God for who he is, acknowledging that he is an awesome God with the power to create and sustain the world. But most importantly, he is your heavenly Father who loves and cares for you: “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). Hallowed be your name. The word hallowed means holy. When we are drawn into the presence of a holy and majestic God, the result is to praise and worship him for who he is. We cry out, as Isaiah did: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty” (Isaiah 6:3).
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. This is a reminder that we are to seek God’s purpose and plan for our lives, not our own: “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 29:11). This is a time of trusting and yielding to God, asking him to take control of our lives and to reign supremely. Give us today our daily bread. We ask God to provide the things we need to get through the day: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). And as we ask, remember to give thanks for his provision. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Examine your life and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any wrong attitudes and actions, then seek God’s forgiveness. Experience the wonderful feeling of being cleansed. “Search me, God, and know my heart” (Psalm 139:23). Pray for those who have sinned against you—forgive them even as God has forgiven you. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. This is a
plea for help in achieving victory over sin. Don’t let sin overwhelm you; instead, claim victory in your life through the power of God. Ask God to guide you. “The Lord is my shepherd … he leads me … ” (Psalm 23:1-2). For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. We recognize that God is sovereign and exalt him for who he is and the things he has done and will continue to do. “To the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forever more!” (Jude 1:25). Although the Lord’s Prayer is often prayed publicly, for me, it has become a very personal prayer, one that has helped me pray any time and anywhere. If you are seeking a deeper, more disciplined prayer life, I encourage you to pray the prayer that Jesus taught us. Major Rita Pittman is the divisional secretary for spiritual life development, divisional community care ministries secretary and divisional director of women’s ministries in Bermuda.
For Further Reading: Too Busy Not to Pray: Slowing Down to be with God, by Bill Hybels Salvationist March 2016 23