During last week’s sermon on Daniel 6, I encouraged everyone to follow Daniel’s example of praying 3 times a day. My specific challenge was to pause each time for 3 minutes–2 minutes of stillness and silence before the King and 1 minute to pray through the prayer Jesus taught us in Matthew 6. This is not meant to supplant daily time meditating on God’s word or interceding for others, but to supplement that time. Like Daniel, David, and the early church, we should plan strategic time throughout the day to pause and realign ourselves with God’s kingdom as we live out our days in the kingdom of this world.
The prayer Jesus taught was not intended to be a mantra or a script we mindlessly repeat. Indeed, two verses before the prayer Jesus commanded, “when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do” (Matthew 6:7). Rather, Jesus gave us this prayer as a model for how we should pray to our Father in heaven. One way we can keep the prayer from becoming repetitious and empty is by filling out the phrases with more personalized, specific expression.
“Our Father” – I am not alone when I come to you. I come as one of your children, brought into your eternal family through your Son, Jesus. While I acknowledge you as Creator, Ruler, King, and Judge, I thank you that I approach you first and foremost as a loving Father.
“in heaven” – You are not bound to this earth or restricted by human flesh or nature. You sit enthroned in heaven and rule sovereignly over all.
“hallowed be your name” – May your name–and you yourself–be regarded as holy. May this begin with me. Grant me to live in such a way that acknowledges you as my highest delight, ultimate provider, and sovereign master. May you be thus set apart in my family, in my church, in my neighborhood, and in our world.
“Your kingdom come” – Bring the full expression of your kingly reign. Consummate your rule on the earth. Hasten the day when “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). We tire of the injustice and corruption of human rule and long for your perfected kingdom.
“your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” – As we long for your rule to be fully realized on earth, help us to respond to your authority with the same unhesitating obedience that the saints and angels in heaven give. Purify our hearts to walk in your ways of love, faithfulness, justice, and generosity.
“Give us this day our daily bread” – We depend on your provision to meet all our needs. We need bodily sustenance, emotional well-being, mental sharpness, and relational harmony. Please provide for the needs we have today in the family, at work, in the community, and in the church.
“and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” – Since we last prayed we have failed to love you whole-heartedly and to love our neighbors as ourselves. We confess our sins and receive the forgiveness you offer through your crucified Son. As we do, grant us such a deep sense of your forgiveness that we extend the same forgiveness to those who have sinned against us.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” – We know we have an enemy: Satan. Please deliver us from his attacks and the evil he and his demonic servants would bring into our lives. We need your leading in our lives; lead us in paths that will bring greatest glory to your name.
As you fill out this prayer throughout your day, may God keep your heart aligned with his character, his kingdom, and his purposes as you trust his good provision.