I was reminded recently of how helpful it can be to use the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) as a way to structure a time of prayer. Here are some of my thoughts as I have gone through it today:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name (v9): I often come straight to God with problems, requests or asking him to forgive me. The start of the Lord’s Prayer is a reminder to me that this is the wrong place to start. I should first remind myself of who God is and thank him for that. He is my father and I am his child (John 1:12). He is holy and almighty (Revelation 4:8) yet I can come into his holy presence with confidence (Hebrews 4:16) because of what Jesus did for me on the cross (1 Peter 3;18).
Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (v10): God’s kingdom coming means praying for God to intervene in situations that don’t happen in heaven such as pain, sickness and unbelief in God. It is also a reminder that God knows best in all situations; his ways are higher than mine (Isaiah 55:9).
Give us today our daily bread (v11): I find the reminder here of coming to God daily helpful; in the same way I can’t eat yesterday’s stale bread I can’t live off yesterday’s encounter with God. What are my spiritual, physical and emotional needs today? What are they for those around me?
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors (v12): God is faithful, if we confess our sins he forgives us (1 John 1:9). It can be hard to forgive others when they wrong us, sometimes it is a long and hard process. We often have to decide to do it despite our feelings and need help from God to do so. Personally I have found that some things come to mind again and again, each time they do I try to give it back to God in prayer and ask that he would help me forgive.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (v13): This verse reminds me of the armour of God in Ephesians 6:10-20, we are in a battle and we need to be ready to fight and defend ourselves, I find it helpful to pray through the different types of armour.
The Lord’s prayer, taken verse by verse, has been a very helpful way for me to focus and to deepen my prayer life. Sometimes I use it when praying for 5 minutes and sometimes for longer times of prayer.
In the ‘Prayer and Worship’ section of my blog a number of posts can be found exploring different aspects of prayer including: the importance of prayer, persevering in prayer and ideas for what to pray for.