Let's Pray the Lord's Prayer!
The Lord's Prayer Words
Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever.
God's Prayer Pattern
I suppose that most Christians can quote the Lord's Prayer. We only get mixed up on which words to use, either "debts/debtors" or "trespasses/trespass against."
The Lord Jesus gave his disciples this prayer, not as a prayer to be memorized and quoted, or said as a Sunday prayer, but it was to be a PATTERN for praying
as Jesus prayed. Jesus prayed differently than most people. There was an intimimacy with God that most people didn't have, and his prayers were powerful and
effective because of that relationship.
All of us need to be taught to pray. My mom began this prayer mentoring with a simple bedside prayer, perhaps you learned it too. It was a starter prayer.
"Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
and if I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take,
God bless Mommy and Daddy, sisters and brothers,
Grandma and Grandpa, (and so it went)."
There's nothing inheriantly wrong with that prayer. It's OK for kids. It's a good "training wheels" type prayer. But if as an adult you are still using that
as your prayer, then you have not grown into maturity at all, but you're stuck "saying prayers," not praying.
When I went to grade school, way back in the 50's, when milk still cost three cents, another prayer was modeled to us, the "God is Great" prayer for the meal.
"God is great, God is good,
Let us thank him for our food.
By thy hand we all are fed,
so give us Lord our daily bread."
Again, cute, concise, and nothing wrong with the prayer, but if you are called on to say a table grace as an adult and come out with this as your prayer,
people will think you a simpleton or an ignorant adult. It was a training prayer, not a prayer to last a lifetime.
The Lord's Prayer was not intended to be a church litergical prayer. It is a "training-wheels" prayer. It is a sample or model prayer. Jesus said, "Pray
after this fashion." Not, pray these words. In fact, he had just censured the pagans and Pharisees for using repeticious prayers.
Jesus' Teaching On Prayer
Let's take a few moments to look carefully at Jesus's teaching on prayer and what elements are in the Lord's Prayer for us to model.
The first and most obvious thing we should see, but the church has ignored it almost completely, is that the first teaching for prayer preceeds the model
prayer that we call the Lord's Prayer. The first lesson on praying is getting into a quiet place, alone with God, and loving him.
"But you, when you pray, enter into your closet,
and when you have shut your door,
pray to your Father who is in secret;
and your Father who sees in secret
will reward you openly."
- (Matthew 6:6)
Obviously, Jesus is not suggesting that the only time and place you pray has to be in a secret closet. It should be obvious to evey believer that we are to
prayer everywhere, at all times, without ceasing, every moment of every day. But Jesus is talking about his practice. We are to model our lives after him.
Though he was God he laid aside his deity to do everything with the same limitations, the same tools, and the same resources that are available to us.
Philippians 2:6-8 "He empied himself, and did not think his deity something to cling to."
Jesus was referring to his need to daily seek out a quiet place and a special time to be alone with his Heavenly Father, to fellowship with him and get to
know him, both to feel his presence, and to hear his voice. That's what we are to do too. No man became a man of God by spending all his time with people.
Jesus was a people-person, but he did not let people and busy-ness rule his life. Quiet times alone with God were his bread and butter for living out the
Christ life, a life of intimacy and obedience to God. So too, it should be our routine.
Here then are the Lord's first steps in learning to pray as he did:
1. We need a prayer closet.
The word closet is the Greek word "tamion" which always means a storage room. It was the place in a Jewish home where
valuables were stored and food stuffs were deposited away for safe keeping. It was a locked room, or at best a room with a door that could
be closed, so no one would barge in on you during your private time with God.
Jesus sometimes made that room the outdoors. He would seek out deserted, isolated, and lonely spots where he could prayer without crowds of
prying eyes and ears.
All through the Bible we have references to such silence and solitude before God as being extremely important for building a godly life.
- Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God."
- Psalm 91:1 "He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty..."
- Isaiah 30:15 "In quietness and confidence would be your strength, but you would not."
- Matthew 11:28 "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
- Mark 6:31 "Come apart by yourselves with me into a desert place, and rest a while:"
- Isaiah 40:31 "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."
- Isaiah 41:1 "Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: "
- Habakkuk 2:20 "But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him."
It should be obvious to us that God values silent times when we are alone with him. Prayer is not so much about our talking at God, but getting quiet and
alone so he can talk to us.
2. We need a specific daily prayer time.
If we don't plan to take time out of our busy days to be alone with God, then we probably will never do it. We plan for everything else.
We make a doctor's appointment and we are really careful to be there at the designated hour and never late. We are not told by Jesus how long that
quiet time needs to be, but he suggests and indication when he invited his disciples to pray with him for an hour on the Mount of Olives. That
does not mean that we need to spend an hour in our prayer closet alone with God, but it does mean that an hour is not too much. I suggest that as
you start out learning to pray you spend at least 10 minutes every day, locked away from the rest of the world, just to be quiet and still your busy
mind and heart to HEAR HIS VOICE. My measurement of this time is to sit, kneel, or lay in his presence until I hear his clear small voice whisper his
love to me. Sometimes it takes 10 minutes, but most of the time it takes more, especially if I am really busy. It's a challenge to be sure, but it's
Jesus challenge to us. You can continue to pray all through the day using the rest of the Lord's prayer as your guide, but this time is your intimate
time of fellowship with God.
3. We need a prayer plan to follow.
The Lord's Prayer is that prayer plan that Jesus gave to us. Many of us have used other plans like ACTS, (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication).
That's OK, but it leaves two things out: 1) The silence and solitude of closet time 2) the putting on of our armor and spiritual cloths. I want to suggest
that we start to follow the Lord's Prayer more carefully. I don't think the order you use is as important as doing all the steps in your daily prayer disciplines.
I want to encourage you to ask the Lord to teach you to pray. Ask him every day for at least a year. Then listen to the voice of the Spirit as he guide
you into all truth.
I also want to suggest that you read my book, "Spending Time Alone With God" and the resource suppliment to that book, "3 Minutes Alone With God" to
give yourself some time to work at each step in the Lord's Prayer. Discipline takes effort. Learning new habits, and breaking old ones, takes time.
Researchers say that it takes about 40 days, six weeks, of doing something day after day to instill into your life as a new habit. I challenge you to
spend the next six weeks walking in intimacy with God the way Jesus taught us to pray. You'll be glad you did. Your prayer life will come alive and it
will become a thrilling adventure with the King of Kings.
Pardon us as we rebuild out web site. There are 100s of pages of prayer materials available here.
All are written, organized and presented by Rev. Richard W. LaFountain and are copyrighted since 1984.
We will be adding material as it becomes available.
The two books "Spending Time Alone With God" and the tools, helps and workbook,
"3 Minutes Alone With God" are available only on Pastor Dick's web sites at
www.PrayerToday.org and www.MinistryToday.org
for $8.00 each, plus shipping and handling.
These books are available in English and are presently
being translated into Portuguese for our Brazilian readers. We hope to have a Spanish translation available in the near future.