By Asst Ps Gift Daniel
As we are in the Lent season, I thought it would be good to take a fresh look at the familiar Lord’s Prayer. While it is commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer”, it is actually “the disciple’s prayer”. It is a model for the disciples and us to follow. Each time when I meditate on it, I glean something new that I can practise in my prayer life.
The prayer recorded in Matthew 6:5-15 comes in the context of alms giving, prayer and fasting. Jesus reminded the Pharisees that they must practise all these three areas in secrecy and with a righteous motive if they were to receive their reward in full. It is a matter between a person and God. A key element to note in all these three disciplines is the congruence of our inner life with our external practices. Scripture does not say we should not pray in public, but when prayers are led in public it should not be done to impress people. The one offering the prayer should pray from the privacy of his or her heart with God alone as the audience.
Prayer is basically talking to God about “Who He is and who we are”. In the process we will know more about God and experience a deep change in us. The Lord’s Prayer is rich in theology and gives us some practical steps to follow. I want to share with you five aspects (this is not exhaustive) to enrich our prayer life. We start the prayer by calling Him “Abba” Father (Our Father in heaven). The very purpose of salvation is that we may receive the Sonship. Because we are His children, we have the right to talk to our Father anytime. After affirming our relationship, we move to the content of our prayer.
1. Hallowed Be Thy Name
Sing of His Praise (you can read a Psalm or sing/say a prayer of worship). Start your prayer with adoration. The point is to adore and praise the Holy God for who He is. The purpose of hallowing His name is that God may be “sanctified” or set apart as holy among all people, that He will be treated with the highest honour. Adoration of God should come before our confession and supplication of needs. Adoration enables us to make light of our petitions and confessions because of our trust in His love and ability.
2. Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done
Surrender to His will in our lives. God deserves our adoration, hence it should be His will that we want to surrender our lives to. At the end of the day, we want His kingdom and His will to be done on earth and in our personal lives. This is what Jesus did in His prayer at Gethsemane. Jesus submitted to the Father’s will. Submitting to His will enables us to have the right attitude of wanting His desire to be our desire. For we less likely to pray selfishly if we have adored Him and sincerely hallowed His name and surrendered to His will.
3. Give Us Today Our Daily Bread
Supplicating our needs. Disciples are to rely on God for all their needs (including their physical and spiritual needs). This is in essence a prayer for sustenance, where we talk to God about our needs and the desires of our heart. This is the “Give me prayer” (I want this and I want that). There is nothing wrong in it. This is the petitionary aspect of our prayer and it is legitimate to bring our needs and wants before God. The Bible says in John 15:7 – “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you” This prayer needs to be understood in the context of everything that is mentioned above – praising God, revering Him and submitting to His will.
4. Forgive Us Our Debts
Sin and forgiveness. The next aspect of the prayer addresses the disciples’ “debt of sin”. Jesus’ disciples have responded to His charge to repent, and their sins are now forgiven. But they are not to simply enjoy their own state of forgiveness, they are also to forgive others. It is important to note that God forgives us not because we forgive others but on the basis of the blood of Christ. An unforgiving spirit will hinder our prayer life and show our lack of understanding of the grace of God (Warren Wiersbe). So when we pray, remember we are forgiven (if we confess our sins) and given grace to forgive others. Our understanding of God’s forgiveness has an impact on our prayer life.
5. Leads Us Not Into Temptation But Deliver Us From the Evil One
Struggle to acknowledge. God’s forgiveness should give us the confidence to acknowledge our struggles before Him. Since God is not one who tempts His people to do evil, we should acknowledge our struggle with our flesh and evil forces, and ask God for deliverance. Struggles are real in a Christian’s life. No one is exempted. Let us acknowledge it before the Lord. Many of the Psalms are honest reflections of the struggles in a Christian’s life. Psalm 73:3 says “….I saw the prosperity of the wicked” Basically Asaph is saying, I am trying to live a holy life but everything seems to be going wrong. Psalms give us the words to express our struggles and feelings to God. God listens and understands our struggles and He can empathize with us as He too has gone through similar struggles.
May the Lord enrich our prayer life during this Lent season when we sing praises to Him, surrender our will, supplicate our needs, apply the forgiveness of sins and acknowledge our struggles.