Pray Like This

I pray. Not as often as I’d like, but more frequently each day.

Most of the time, unless I’m asking the Lord for some specific need or desire, I use the words Christ gave us in Matthew’s account of the gospel, known commonly as “The Lord’s Prayer” from Matthew 6:8-13, where Jesus says, “…your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this”

Usually I pray the prayer verbatim first, and then follow that with taking each section of this short prayer and putting it into my own words. So it sounds something like this…

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…

Abba, Pappa (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6). Thank You for making me Your child, for adopting me. And thank You for bringing me into a family. You’re not just my Father. You are our Father; every brother and sister in Christ throughout the world and throughout the ages (1 Corinthians 1:2). You’ve given us the honor and the privilege of approaching Your throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16). It’s because of Your grace that we’ve been adopted, and because of Your unfathomable holiness that we worship and honor Your name.

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…

I ask for Your authority as my King to be evident in my life, in the way I work, the way I love and serve my wife and family, the way I treat those around me; both those who have authority over me, and those over whom I have authority (Titus 2:10). There are so many opportunities for me through the day to either submit to Your rulership, or to set myself up as king; but I want Your kingdom to be visible in my life as a witness to those who don’t know You, those who have not submitted to You as King (James 4:7). I know that You reign. Would You help me to remember that today (Psalm 47:7)?

“Give us this day our daily bread…

Not only physical bread, but spiritual bread as well. Every time I receive provision (like food and shelter), may I be reminded that You have provided the Bread of Life in Your Son (John 6:33,35,48,51). I want to be a grateful partaker of that Bread today and everyday. Help my sin-weakened heart to be mindful of the blessing that I have in You (James 1:17). You’ve graciously given me every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). And I do also trust that You care about my physical needs (Philippians 4:19), and ask that You would give me the wisdom and integrity to work hard at the job You’ve provided me with in order to provide for the physical needs of my family.

“…and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors…

I know my tendency is to wander. As long as I’m in this body that is racked with both sin and its effects, that I will have to battle my carnal desires. But Your Word says that if we walk in the Spirit, we will put to death the deeds of the flesh (Romans 8:12-17; Galatians 5:16). Still, I continue to sin against You by making myself my own king instead of You, and by making myself my own god, an idol, instead of You being the only recipient of my worship. In those moments through the day that I get angry or irritated with others for doing something I don’t like, help me see that I’m setting myself up as an idol for myself. As a sinner, who has sinned against an infinitely holy God, I don’t ‘deserve better’ (Matthew 18:21-35). In fact, any good I receive is because of Your abundant mercy. Help me to remember that, and to extend mercy to others when they sin against me.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…

You are good; and I know that You care about Your glory far more than I do. I know also that Your Word says that You Yourself tempt no one (James 1:13). But You are the Sovereign King, and you have authority even over the temptation of the devil. So I ask that You would lead me far from temptation and that You would deliver me from the evil one, so that my life may honor You and be a living sacrifice to You, and that I would be transformed by the renewal of my mind (Romans 12:1-2).

I don’t say those exact words each day, but something similar. By allowing Christ’s model for prayer to guide how I pray, I never feel like there’s nothing to pray about. And I don’t have to wrestle with feeling like I only come to God with petitions; especially because the Lord’s Prayer begins with worship. There are many days when I spend far more just adoring God and thanking Him than asking Him for anything. But we must not forget that this is the way Jesus taught His disciples to pray, and that includes these elements…

It is adoring.

It is submissive.

It is dependent.

It is daily.

And it is humble.

2 thoughts on “Pray Like This

  1. Amen!
    I feel like it’s this sort of approach to prayer that is lacking in most churches. It isn’t practiced or taught, and I think that’s unfortunate. Some of my meaningful times in prayer have come from doing this very thing–meditating on the words, one line at a time.
    Also, Dallas Willard does an awesome job of breaking down the Our Father/Lord’s Prayer in his book, The Divine Conspiracy. So, too, does Pope Benedict XVI in the first of his books in the Jesus of Nazareth series.
    Thanks for sharing this, Dan!

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