Teach Us To Pray

Lord, teach us to pray”  Luke 11:1

In Luke’s gospel, the Lord responded to the disciples’ request by teaching them what we now call ‘the Lord’s Prayer.’  These words have since become the central utterance of the historical church. We are meant to embody them as the first concerns of our life.  Though a beautiful prayer to recite, it is by living each of these petitions that its power becomes established in our thoughts, attitudes, actions and desires.

I have longed to shape my life according to this prayer.  But whenever I have tried to meditate on these various petitions during a single prayer time I have always found it overwhelming.  Each verse is meditation of its own.  But the Lord’s Prayer can easily be walked through on a weekly basis, focusing on one petition every day.  Over the course of a week, a relationship with the Lord’s Prayer could look like this:

Monday: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name”

-meditate on the universality of God, how the word “our” presumes a relationship with God that we share with everybody
-consider the ideal Father-like qualities by which God cares and nurtures us
-meditate on the fact that, though God is with and within us, He is also above.  He is both immanent and transcendent
-consider how the Lord’s name is hallowed, holy, above all other names
-let these thoughts and many other related ones be the focus of your day

Tuesday: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”

-meditate on the need for change in the world; allow yourself to grieve for the discrepancies between God’s will and that which isn’t
-consider the difference it will make, and desire the day when every person will know the Lord for themselves. (Jer. 31:34)
-rejoice at the hope of everything being as it should; at the unity of agreement between heaven and earth; between all people; between you and God
-let these thoughts and many other related ones be the focus of your day

Wednesday: “Give us this day our daily bread”

-it is half way through the week; pray for the conditions of your home or work place
-meditate on your circumstances, whether in need or in plenty, and consider all to be from God’s hand
-give thanks to God for the needs you have; see yourself among those who are blessed because they hunger.
-let these thoughts and many other related ones be the focus of your day

Thursday: “Forgive us our trespasses…”

-the week now starts to turn towards Sunday when you will again meet the Lord in Holy Communion; it is time to ‘prepare the way of the Lord’
-spend time today taking stock of your life; confess all that you know represents a trespass of God’s loving desire for you in your life
-consider the ways your life has either intentionally or inadvertently worked against God’s purposes in you or in your relationship with others
-ask God to give you insight into your ‘hidden sins’ so that you can receive a deeper awareness of your forgiveness
-be grateful for the confidence you have that, in asking for forgiveness, you are certain to receive it; don’t take for granted the faith God has given you to believe this
-let these thoughts and many other related ones be the focus of your day

Friday: “…as we forgive those who trespass against us”

-Friday, in many Christian traditions, is considered a special day for mercy since it was the day our Lord gave His life for us; as we have received such a great mercy, today we consider all those we still hold accountable to us, and pray for the faith to completely release them
-as we continue to prepare for the Lord’s Day we wish to be free, as well as to free others, of all guilt
-as Christ does for you, present others to yourself as ‘spotless, and without blemish’
-let these thoughts and many other related ones be the focus of your day

Saturday: “And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil”

-Saturday, in many Christian traditions, is seen as a day of waiting as it falls between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.
-in the days preceding we have asked for, and have received, God’s forgiveness; Jesus now says to us, ‘go and sin no more;’  today is a day when we strive to ‘remain in His love;’ we are clean because of the word He has spoken to us
-let us not underestimate the help we need in order to continue to walk righteously
-let these thoughts and many other related ones be the focus of your day

Sunday: “For thine is the Kingdom, the glory and the power forever and ever, Amen.”

-the Lord’s Day is a day of victory that affirms God’s rule over sin and death
-we celebrate the cycle of the week as a microcosm of all spiritual history.
-we meditate on eternity and on God’s glory that will, one day, no longer be seen dimly, but fully recognized by all
-today we receive the elements of our salvation—the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, our Saviour
-we meditate on the joy and privilege it is to have been chosen to be grafted into this life-giving Vine; all the glory belongs to Jesus!
-let these thoughts and many other related ones be the focus of your day

If you find this exercise helpful, copy this page and put it on your fridge or calendar. Let each day be shaped by these meditations and you will grow deeper in the reality and experience of the priorities our Lord taught us to adopt.