I looked out the car window as palm tree lined medians became a blur matching my own blurred thoughts. I then looked at my husband, Michael, who was driving when the words came, “My mind feels so numb that I just don’t know what to pray anymore.”
It was true then, and it’s still true now. Sometimes my brain feels numbed by medication, or dunked into a fog induced haze by inflammation, or it simply feels numbed by worry.
I don’t know who said it first, but one of us mentioned trying to use the Lord’s Prayer as our rubric. So as we sat together in the car that morning, we began an hour long tradition of daily saying the prayer together as we drove to one of my doctor’s offices for treatments. Yes, an hour long, you read that correctly. We used the prayer as our guideline to fill in the gaps to personalize the prayer as our own.
Yes, an hour long, you read that correctly. We used the prayer as our guideline to fill in the gaps to personalize the prayer as our own.
I think we often forget the words of Jesus leading up to the prayer when his disciples asked him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” He said, “when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the hypocrites do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.”
But right after he said this warning, Jesus launches into what many of us know as the “Lord’s Prayer.” What’s fascinating is that even with that warning, we can use these very words as a methodology that’s simply memorized words to “get through” a prayer. That’s the exact opposite of what Jesus wanted with this prayer. But even though many of us have abused it as a rote prayer (guilty), it clearly holds meaning, because why else would Jesus answer the disciples with this exact prayer when His disciples asked Him “Lord, teach us to pray?”
What are we missing?
I think sometimes we forget that we’re even trying to communicate with God when we say this prayer (guilty again). So, let’s walk through the prayer without our Sunday School poised voices and really personalize this prayer as our personal cry to the God who authored our life:
Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name. Already we have a word that sounds stilted to our ears today, “hallowed.” Another version simplifies it, “Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.” (NLT) Here is a time where we can come to God and praise him for his otherness. He is in heaven; we are not. This very line sets a distinction in our relationship with him that should cause us to be amazed. If you’re having a monumental struggle in your life where it feels difficult to even praise God, be honest with Him. If God truly is a gracious God (and He is) then He would want nothing more than to hear our secret hurts, even if those hurts include hurts with Him. This is a time where we can ask Him to posture our hearts and minds in a reflection of praise, even when we feel apathetic.
Your kingdom come; your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We see the word “kingdom” and usually think of
the term as this abstract, far-off entity, so this verse becomes even more lost in translation in our21st-century minds. In the four Gospels, we see Jesus mentioning,”And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” When Christ came to this world, He ushered in a change that can be so easy to pass over. Just take a moment to reflect on what the earth was like before God in the flesh resided with us who brought the Kingdom of God to earth. When we pray this portion, thank God for bringing His kingdom into this world and inaugurating a change, and pray that we would see more of His kingdom brought to this earth as well as pray that we have the mindset to see His kingdom at work. So many times, it can be tempting to blind ourselves with the bad news to the point where we can’t even see His light penetrating this dark world.
Give us this day our daily bread. We know we have needs. God knows we have needs. So let’s toss our cares onto God in this moment, remembering that if He cares enough to feed the sparrows, He cares for our needs abundantly more. In the times of Moses, the Israelites were given manna as their sustenance for the day. Yet, there was a catch- it would only last for that one day. This is also a time to reflect on whether we are daily feeding in the Word while we pray for our needs at hand.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Oh, how we all need this portion of the prayer! As Michael and I would sit in the car together in those mornings we would list off all those blunders of action that we had fallen into and asking God to cover those who have wronged us since Christ was gracious enough to forgive us. Now, if someone has hurt us, it’s perfectly okay for us to cry out to our God, expressing our hurt just as David did. Even if no one else can handle your pained words, God can.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. It’s so easy to go off into the wrong direction in pleasant conversation that can lead anyone without their guard up into gossip, or become complacent about taking every thought captive which can lead our actions astray. This is a time to recognize our areas of weakness and pray for God to protect us from falling into the trap of believing our wrongs should be justified as well as praying specifically that we take every thought captive, which can prevent us all from falling into temptation.
For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever, amen. It can be so easy to become consumed in the trap of worry that comes with our human frailness that we forget God’s kingdom that has touched the earth, His glory and what should be our desire to bring Him glory, and His everlasting nature. This is a time to close in prayer, remembering that there is an eternal perspective in mind that we could be forgetting.
May His desires become our own.
Praying alongside you,
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