I have been saying the Lord’s Prayer for as long as I can remember. But, when I said it last Monday, it hit me suddenly and immediately that everything we need to live is expressed in that prayer. Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us a prayer through which we can ask God for all that we need to live!
From experience we know that not all that we ask we will receive but, in retrospect, we always realise that in the end, the sum total is always a plus and always good. That’s why we pray.
Let’s consider again how to pray according to the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6: 9-13). “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name (v 9)” — when we pray we start with worship. We need to worship individually to affirm who He is to us personally and corporately to affirm who He is to us as a community. Both honour God and upbuild us individually and as a community, which is the church.
“… your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (v 10).” Very clearly, we need to invoke His will on Earth. This prayer is huge — covering the whole Earth and an impossible task for us to accomplish individually! But, we can take steps according to His will in our own individual lives and that is sufficient! What we can’t do He does!
These two verses are a declaration of who God is. It is in the remaining verses that we see what God wants to give to us. There are four areas where His help is available.
1. “Give us today our daily bread, (v11)”. All that we need for our sustenance is what we can ask Him for. I don’t think this only means asking Him for basic needs. We can ask for more, even for luxuries! As we pray, we will discover a freedom to ask God for more than the basic in some areas. If He gives us, we should just take it and enjoy! If He doesn’t, we can learn to be content with what He gives.
2. “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors (v12)”. V11 shows that God will take care of our personal needs but in v 12 He directs our attention to taking care of inter-personal interactions. When we live in a community, we can expect people to hurt us. The first thing to realise is that we also do the hurting! So, our Lord teaches us to forgive others before asking for forgiveness for our own sins! Forgiveness will make right many emotional and psychological glitches that rob us of healthy relationships with others. It then becomes easier to live with one another and we will be strengthened as a community.
3. “And lead us not into temptation, … (v13a)”. This is another area where we need help. Temptations are all around us. When we understand that it is not God who allows temptations into our lives, we can assume responsibility to avoid it and trust that He will keep what we can’t handle far from us!
4. “… but deliver us from the evil one. (v13b)”. Lastly, but not leastly, we need to ask Him to deliver us from evil. This is something we can’t do by ourselves. We need to keep praying until He delivers us from the evil that manifests around us. We need to pray for wisdom and discernment, strength, courage and resources to deliver us from evil.
The above four general areas cover our entire lives! In each we can ask for specifics relevant to our lives. When we get God’s help in these areas, we will have that deep assurance that He is there for us!