What are we doing when we pray? Prayer is worship. We’re acknowledging God’s power. It’s knowing that we are weak and flawed and praising or petitioning something greater than ourselves. Without faith, prayer is just a wish list, a superstitious tossing of a coin into a well. A kind of “well, it can’t hurt” approach.
Prayers are made in times of grief, moments of fear, times of reflection and moments of joy. They can become simply a habit, or made for some pretty frivolous and selfish, even hateful reasons. People have prayed to the sun, the moon, stars, planets, animals, trees, water, wind, fire, the list goes on. Prayers are often made to the god we have created for ourselves. A request to a greater version of ourselves with the power to do what we know should be done.
Any time we turn our hearts and minds toward God for solace, guidance or sharing our appreciation is prayer. So is turning our hearts and minds to Him with complaints, frustration and anger. You can rest assured, no one ever said a prayer that wasn’t heard by God, even if the prayer wasn’t made to Him. God also knows why we are praying for whatever we’re praying for, and who we’re praying to. And He knows to who and why we are praying, better than we do.
Christ told us “when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” God is there in those dark and angry, lonely times, waiting for us to seek His guidance and comfort. He’s there in those thoughtful contemplative times, waiting to reveal answers. He’s there in the grateful rejoicing times, graciously accepting our praise. Jesus also said “And when you pray don’t heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them”. He doesn’t need you to try to impress Him or other people with repetitious wailings or dramatic expressions. He wants to be in a completely real, honest, totally unguarded relationship with you. He wants to listen to you, alone in your room, door closed.
The prayer given to us by Jesus Christ himself, known as The Lord’s Prayer, tells us not only who God is, what he does for us, and why we can trust Him, It gives us a framework of the intent and understanding that should serve as the foundation and backdrop of all our prayers. As we have come to know it, it comes in three main parts. The first two are directly from Christ and teach us who we are praying to, and what we should rightfully expect from God. The third part was added by Christians is a worshiping praise, showing that we accept and understand what we were taught.
Who are we praying to; (who are we worshipping)
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Taken piece by piece this tells us who God is and why we should worship Him.
Our father; Some dads took care of us and taught us and loved us, some dads were abusive, physically, mentally or by neglect, some people never even know who their father is. The one thing that is the same, and this is true universally, is the primary, intentional involvement in our creation. Whether we were the result of an accident or a planned pregnancy, our fathers took direct and deliberate action to bring us into the world. There is no intermediary between us and our fathers, whether that relationship is a good one or a bad one, either way it’s very personal. Through faith that Jesus is the Son of God the Father, we are all a part of the body of Christ. Christians. As Christians we say “our father” which reflects the first of the Ten Commandments (Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.) We are speaking directly to God, the Father of Jesus Christ, the one whose will began and sustains everything in creation. Without His intent, nothing would be or have ever been. Without Him providing for us, we would cease to be. Sometimes his lessons are painful, what He provides, less than we think we deserve, some we never understand, but he will always be there, teaching and providing.
Who art in heaven; (Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.) God the Father exists beyond our comprehension, he’s not limited to earthly relics or individual perception. God has seen us again and again try to contain him and restrict him, or create our own gods that we are more comfortable with. Gods that are limited to certain places or certain times. God is not in a cross, he’s not in a painting, or a statue, or a church building. He is with each of us wherever we are. He is also in places beyond our wildest imagination.
Hallowed be thy name; (Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.) I used to be bad about this, I did it daily. I didn’t really think of it as breaking a commandment, it was just a common expression, but really it is disrespecting God. To use his name but not actually give him any thought. We are not to profane the name of The Lord by calling on Him with bad intent and we are to pay due honor any time we mention Him.
Thy kingdom come; God created everything and reigns supreme over all of it. In Christ’s coming he declared the Kingdom. In Christ’s return, He’ll complete it. His Kingdom is the place where everyone who has put their faith in The Son come together under the Father, not simply a place on a map. We live in the Kingdom if we have faith in Christ, no matter where we are.
Thy will be done; We’re saying that we want what He wants, more than what we want ourselves and that we understand that all God wants to happen will happen. That’s where we go all in with prayer. Understanding that God knows best and that He is engaged it seeing it through.
On earth as it is in heaven; God is intentional in our lives and our world. He didn’t just set us up with a fancy spinning rock and sit back and watch. He isn’t just a “big-picture” Deity. He is working on us and through us every day.
We’re worshipping the one who started it all, He allowed all of us to be here. The One who sacrificed His own Son to save us from ourselves. We are worshipping the ultimate power and authority.
The Second part of the Lord’s Prayer teaches us what we should expect if we have faith. What we should expect of him and why will it be granted.
Give us this day our daily bread; Now, I like bread. But what we are referring to here is more than that. We are stating that God is providing whatever we need to sustain ourselves. Worries have no place in the Kingdom of God. People get desperate when times are hard and do things out of desperation because we think that we have no other choice. Those are the times when God is asking us to trust in Him, trust that he will provide what we need when we know, fear and revere Him. All that is best for us at that time is what we will have, if we have faith. It may not be what we planned, but it will be what we need.
And forgive us our trespasses; This is our confession, knowing and admitting that we have done wrong, at whatever level, mind, body or spirit. Its also our statement of faith that through God’s grace, granted to us on behalf of His Son Jesus Christ, he will forgive us.
As we forgive those who trespass against us; Its easy to feel convicted when we read or hear about how we shouldn’t judge, we need to forgive others and love our enemies. It’s hard to forgive those that have wronged us or the people we care about. Overall, people don’t think about mistakes or even want to admit to ourselves the things we have done wrong very often. We make excuses to justify our behavior, a lot of times we end up blaming the very same people we should be asking to forgive us. Judgement comes for all of us, we are to love others as we love ourselves. We would want to be forgiven, our grace to others is the measure which we should wish to have applied to ourselves. God’s grace is endless, it can cover anything we have done if we simply trust in Christ. When we allow ourselves to believe, we feel that grace within ourselves. The peace that it grants us gets extended to others. The more we accept that our sins are forgiven, the more aware of them we become, and the less we can blame others for theirs. Once you have faith in God’s goodwill, you become another outlet for it.
And lead us not into temptation; A person of faith is still a person. Still susceptible to sin, but doesn’t want to be. We ask that God limit the influence of bad examples, and reduce the draw to and desire of sinning.
But deliver us from evil; We are pursued by Satan who tempts us to sin and faithlessness. Without God’s forgiveness and help he will catch us. He will take us down with him if he can.
The last section is pure praise, and it shows that we have learned, not earned our place in the Kingdom. God was not elected, the Kingdom is, always was and always will be His to control and define.
For thine is the kingdom; God has authority over all things, on all levels. As Christians, we are the subjects.
And the power; God controls every detail, nothing can restrict or limit the fulfillment of His will.
And the glory; Only God is worthy of praise and adoration.
Forever and ever; He is unchanging and unchangeable.
Amen; The word amen, is simply an affirmation of truth, our prayer is offered to God in good faith and without deception.
Christ teaches us, saying “our” Father, “our” daily bread, forgive “our” trespasses, as “we” forgive trespassers against “us”, lead “us”, deliver “us.” As Christians we are all one body. Joined together by the Holy Spirit as the body of Christ. There is no room for selfish endeavors or ill will in prayer.
The apostles asked Jesus; how do we pray. Christ gave a direct answer, He gave us the Lord’s Prayer. He doesn’t tell us these are the only words we can use, He said to ask anything of the Father in His name and it will be done. Unfortunately, people are sinful, we aren’t selfless, we don’t love others as we love ourselves, we aren’t humble or grateful. But if we remember who we’re telling the Father of all creation, is our personal reference, and are honest with ourselves, nothing selfish or ill willed can come out. When asked with complete faith and a heart of accepting the words and meaning of the Lord’s Prayer, every prayer is granted. When we put our faith in the salvation Christ granted us, praising God isn’t an obligation, it’s an honor.