I have always intellectually known that prayer is important…but generally speaking, I don’t think I’ve ever been great at it. There have been more times than not when I’ll be in the middle of a prayer and something will distract me – similar to a dog thinking “SQUIRREL!” and bolting. I get distracted so, so easily. And the next thing I know, I’m clearing the dishwasher or starting a load of laundry (and how many times have I only emptied half of the dishwasher when I start the load of laundry? Am I the only one who does that?) It’s like I have pushed the pause button on my spiritual remote control…which means that I go on living life with half-prayed prayers.
I listen to Andy Stanley through his Your Move app on a regular basis. One of his messages called “Red-Letter Prayers” was about the Lord’s Prayer. Call me spiritually dense, but I never really connected the dots that this “prayer” was the bedrock guide by which God wants us to pray. I thought it was a beautiful prayer and all, but that’s about all I attributed to it. I guess my head knew it, but my heart really didn’t clue in.
I wonder how many times in my life I have recited the Lord’s Prayer (also called the Model Prayer). I can say it in my sleep (I actually probably have, since I am a perpetual sleep talker/walker/shine-my-iPhone-flashlight-in-my-husband’s-face-in-the-middle-of-the-night person). Maybe you are way more spiritually advanced than I am (no shocker there), but I have only recently broken it down and framed my prayers through the lens of the Lord’s Prayer.
When Andy Stanley went in-depth with how God says we should pray, not only did a light bulb go off, but a plethora of fireworks went off in my mind. In Matthew 6:9, Jesus says “This is how you should pray..” This was in response to the disciples actually asking him how they should pray – guess they clued in that Jesus had a corner on the market for praying and knew a thing or two about it. Have I been half asleep my whole life? How have I missed it that God actually gave us the blueprint for prayer!?
About three weeks ago, my friend with the palm frond eyelashes (see “Eyelash Magic” in the Tried and True section of this website if you don’t know what I’m talking about) invited me to a bible study. Interestingly enough, praying the Lord’s Prayer was one of the central themes to this bible study. Hmm…two times in the past month, it has been brought to my attention the importance of praying with this guide in mind. I have learned over the years with respect to when I hear the same thing twice that relates to God (especially if it’s in a short amount of time), it means it’s in my best interest to sit up and pay attention. I think this time it meant for starters, I needed to put more batteries in my spiritual remote control as it related to my prayer life.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but the timing couldn’t be better because I am feeling a more fervent need to up the ante when it comes to prayer. The world we are living in is nuts. Whether it’s the threat of ISIS, economic uncertainty, or the continued decay of morality in our society, there’s enough to pray about. The thought of sending three children into the real world is a tad unnerving. God obviously knew I was going to be feeling this way, so He was kind enough to reintroduce His blueprint for prayer to my mind. And this time my heart got on board.
I have just recently begun to focus on this. It will probably never be as consistent as I would like or as thorough, but it’s a good general guide for me. I needed to be taught how to pray.
The Lord’s Prayer – Matthew 6:9:
Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. I start out acknowledging the greatness of God.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. I have to consciously surrender my will. I can be a tad bossy (!) and tend to white knuckle grip my will. The older I get, the more I realize surrender has to be a daily practice for me. I feel almost immediate peace when I surrender and remember that I am not in control (praise God for that).
Give us this day, our daily bread. Asking for daily provision helps me not fret too much about the future. And it reminds me of who the provider really is.
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. This is a big one. I need forgiveness first (on a daily basis), and then I need to forgive others…even if it’s little resentments I hold in my heart. The little ones can be surprisingly tricky, because I think they aren’t a big deal…but they grow. There are times I need to park myself here a little longer.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. I ask God to protect me and my loved ones from the plans the evil one has for us. Since there’s no getting around the fact that the enemy is real, I wish he would just don his red tights, pitchfork and horns and make himself more visible. It’d be so much easier to spot him looking all evil. But he likes to hide himself in my fears, doubts, comparisons and just plain ‘ol strife.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. All the glory goes to God. My goal at the end of the day is to truly tell God that I seek His kingdom first, not mine. This is not easy…at all.
When I pray without a plan, that’s when the “squirrel!” hits me. Obviously, there are quick prayers I shoot up…but the Lord’s Prayer is my ultimate guide and goal. And maybe praying this way will help keep me from having a half empty dishwasher.