Have you ever heard a child pray?
They are open and thankful for everything. With ease, they talk to God on a personal and genuine level.
Why can it be difficult for us to pray and be open with God? Personally, it’s not like my daily life is lacking activity or I don’t have people to pray for or to be thankful for… I think sometimes it can be hard to pray because I am not being intentional, or God has not been my number one priority.
Preaching the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches his followers to pray like this:
“Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one,” (Matthew 6:9-13 CSB).
You may have memorized this in Sunday school and have recited it a billion times. But why, of all things, would Jesus teach his disciples to pray like this? Because in its simplicity there is actually quite a lot to unpack here.
The first sentence sets God in his place – honored and holy. We should talk to God out of respect and reverence. And what’s more amazing – the creator of the entire universe wants us to talk to him and to have a genuine relationship with him.
So, what does, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” mean? The biggest word here: your. Your kingdom and your will, not mine.
Everything we pray about should be in the pursuit of his will and kingdom in our lives and in the lives of others. God is the main focus, and half of the Lord’s prayer is just telling him that! That’s probably why it’s called The Lord’s Prayer, and not man’s prayer.
Next, now that we have a humble and willing heart, Jesus says we should ask God for three things:
- Our daily bread. This sums up the things we need, probably not the things we want. It’s not our daily slice of cake, it’s the portion of food we need to be able to live off of. Things in this category to pray to God about would include employment, basic transportation and physical needs such as food, water, shelter and health. God want us to talk to him about our daily needs. This implies we should be praying to him every day.
- Forgiveness. This is double-sided. Not only should we ask for forgiveness of our sins, but this is also a time to forgive others. This is a place of repentance. Here, we realize how we have wronged God and also acknowledge that if he can forgive all that I have done wrong and all of my mistakes, I can forgive others. We love others because he loved us first. Forgiveness is a part of love – true love. For example, in any kind of relationship, whether it be a marriage, friendship, or with a close family member, it’s easy to make a mistake and fall short. But love keeps no record of wrongs… and when we hold onto past grievances of other people, it only creates conflict (trust me, arguing with someone is not fun when you both have been holding onto something the other has done – even if it’s been years). More to the point, it’s hard to grow and move past things when you haven’t moved past things. And forgiveness is taken very seriously by God! A verse after the Lord’s prayer Jesus warns, “For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your offenses,” (Matthew 6:14). This step of repentance and forgiveness is not something we can simply overlook – it’s a part that we should take seriously to check our hearts.
- Deliverance. Temptation is a daily threat as it can be anything that takes our focus off of God and turns us off the path of righteousness. “The evil one” is also known as a prowling lion seeking to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10, 1 Peter 5:8). We are not defenseless against him, that is Satan (read Ephesians 6), but every day we must realize there is a spiritual war-waging. I can’t speak for everyone, but the devil is good at putting lies in my head… He attempts to shatter my self-confidence, wreck my marriage, obliterate my family and friend relationships and take down churches from the inside-out. More so, his endgame is to prevent as many people from finding and living in the joy and peace and love that God offers as he can. We are to pray often that God will deliver us from this supernatural threat so that we can be prepared and to have our eyes wide open.
Our father, who lives in heaven – you are holy above all things. Your name is glorious and powerful. Your will, and not mine, be done in and through my life and on this earth.
Help me to live in your will and seek your kingdom first. Lord, you know my every need before I pray it and yet you long to be close to my heart. So here is my heart – save those who are lost and provide for those in need. As for me and my house, we will serve you and be thankful for your unending love and provision. Thank you for meeting all of our needs.
Father forgive me when I fail you. Help me to forgive those who fail me. On my own, I can’t. But through your love, I can let go of the things that have caused me pain and despair. Free me from this burden.
Lord, I know my flesh is weak and I do what I don’t want to do sometimes. I depend on your strength to save me from that which takes my eyes off of you whether it be the pride of life, the lust of the eyes or the lust of the flesh. Be my defense and the one I run to when I am afraid or feel lost and alone. Replace the lies with your truth.
My prayer for you today is that, when you can’t find the words to say to God, you can remember this passage of scripture and hold its meaning in your heart.
In love and truth,