In Luke 11:1, Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them to pray. This seems like an unusual request, since they all were taught how to pray as faithful Jews. But they knew Jesus was quite different than the rabbis they grew up with. Jesus had this sense of credibility, wisdom, and power that made his prayers and life different than the rest. They knew that if they asked Jesus how to pray, they would get something that would actually tap them into truth, grace, and relationship with God.
Jesus’ response (in Luke 11:2-4) is the essence of what we call “The Lord’s Prayer.” The form we use (which is slightly expanded) is found in Matthew’s narrative (6:9-13).
This is the most famous prayer in the world, and deservedly so. In this short prayer, Jesus sums the essence of worship, alignment, purpose, petition, and protection. However, because this prayer is so familiar we often lose sight of its richness and meaning. Also, we’ve seen abuse and misuse of this prayer, like when it is treated as a “lucky charm” or as a way (attempt) to manipulate God to do our personal bidding.
But this prayer has ushered me into deep experiences and connection in my relationship with God. So, I want to share some of those experiences and insights from the Lord’s Prayer with you. Many, many times the Lord’s Prayer has kept me strong on the path of Whole Life Worship.
There are basically two ways I pray the Lord’s Prayer: as a model of prayer (where each part of the prayer represents a concept of prayer) and as a prayer that anchors my focus on God. I’ll cover the model of the Lord’s Prayer in the next several days. Today I want to focus on the latter application.
Like the Jesus Prayer and the “Help My Unbelief” prayer, the Lord’s Prayer is easy to recall; it is short and to the point. Most of us memorized it when we grew up as children and youth. I enjoy praying it with the church (which we need to do more often – my bad, as the Worship Pastor). But I particularly have found it to be powerful as I pray it during my Personal Worship Times and at various moments of the day.
As I mentioned, the Lord’s Prayer is like an “anchor” for me. When my heart and mind are going too fast for me to get my bearings (which is all too often), praying the Lord’s Prayer aloud stills my inmost being. It reminds me who God is, who I am, and what I am supposed to be doing.
I think one of the problems with praying the Lord’s Prayer is praying it too fast; without much thought or reflection. So when I pray it, I pray the prayer slowly: one phrase at a time, followed by a pause. This helps me to be “present” in the prayer.
“Our Father who art in heaven” – I soak into the meaning of what it means to address God as my heavenly Father. “Hallowed be Thy name – I reflect on some of the many names of God (Holy God Almighty, the Lord who Provides, the Alpha and the Omega, etc.) “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” – I remember that I (as well as all Creation) was created for His will and purposes, and aligning myself to that. And so it goes.
When I pray the Lord’s Prayer in this manner, my perspective of life changes dramatically. I am at a place of steadfastness, of surety. My heart has begun the process of being stilled and quieted (which leads me to another prayer – Silent Prayer – which I’ll share about later). My soul adopts a posture of waiting and anticipation to what and where God will lead. My mind is more ready to engage with the words God’s Spirit shares with me through Scripture and reflection.
How do you view the Lord’s Prayer?
Do you pray the Lord’s Prayer? If so, how?
How have you seen the benefit/challenges of this prayer?