Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. Matthew 6:9b (NLT)
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Matthew 6:9 (KJV)
I don’t personally know anyone who can’t recite the Lord’s Prayer. I know those people exist—I just don’t know them.
Let me clarify that. When I say, know the Lord ’s Prayer, I mean just about everyone can boldly begin, “OUR FATHER WHICH ART IN HEAVEN,” the volume significantly dips during Hallowed be they name. Then there is some mumbling until the words “Thy will,” closely followed by more mumbling leading to a stronger “as it is in heaven.” Then there is a part about bread. Then comes the scariest part of the entire prayer—is it sins and sin, debts and debtors, or trespasses and trespass? That line of the prayer often sounds like, “And forgive us our sssssssses and we forgive those who ssssssss against us.” The hissing line about forgiveness leads to the realization the “Amen” is close. Once the word temptation is uttered and the plea to “deliver us from evil.” is said. The boldness to end strong wells up and by the time the word glory is uttered, the “FOREVER, AMEN!” is strong.
That’s what I mean when I say everyone knows the Lord’s Prayer.
Jesus didn’t intend these words to be the only prayer of His followers. In response, to the plea from the fishermen, tax collector and the regular non-religious types following Jesus, Jesus told them to pray simply: like this.
Step 1: Recognize to whom you are praying
The act of praying is the act of communicating with someone who cares about you. Jesus taught His followers to direct their prayers to Our Father. Don’t let the image of your flawed earthly father keep you from your loving, gracious, merciful, and just Heavenly Father. In this sin-tainted world, your earthly father may have abandoned you, or worse, abused you. Your Heavenly Father is waiting for you to cry out His name—to bring your hurts, desires, fears, failures, praise, and success to Him so He can offer you what you really need.
The first concept Jesus taught His disciples about prayer was; prayer is a conversation with someone who loves and cares for you. God’s not in the practice of giving you snakes and stones—He loves YOU!
Step 2: Recognize who God is
God is your Heavenly Father. He’s not just your Father—He’s Heavenly! That adjective is tossed around in the vernacular. I’ve shivered with delight over a heavenly piece of cake. I’ve snuggled in a heavenly sweater. I’ve listened with joy and goose bumps as musicians performed a heavenly piece of music.
That is the beginning of the understanding you need when you pray. What makes something heavenly? Heavenly things are better, luscious, astounding—different. Your Father in heaven is—HEAVENLY! Not only does He care about YOU, He has the power to see it though. He is better, luscious, astounding and different from anyone you know here on earth!
The best part is—He loves YOU!
Consider that as you pray today. You are praying to the One who made all things—from nothing, I might add. God knows you intimately. He desires that you come to Him in the innocence and need of child so that He can commune with you, meet your need and restore you to what you were meant to be—His friend.
Father, I have a difficult time expressing with words what it means to be Your child. Teach me to come to for all that I need but also simply to be Your child.