Prayer is the way we communicate with God.
Three basic things must be present in your life for growing spiritual health. The intentional, methodical, and consistent pursuit of God through:
- Bible reading and studying.
- Fellowship with other Christian believers.
Bible reading and fellowship are relatively measurable, tangible items. By that I mean, you can track where in the Bible you are reading as well as how much time you’re spending and material you’re covering. You can also easily track your time spent with Christian brothers and sisters in genuine fellowship.
Biblical fellowship is defined by Christ-centered fellowship, which encourages each other onward in their Christian walk. And by the way, that doesn’t mean you can’t laugh and have a great time.
Prayer on the other hand is a bit less tangible, measurable, and perhaps a bit more mystical to many folks. I used to find it easy to read long sections of Scripture or use a Bible study guide of some sort, but prayer seemed more elusive. I could run through prayer time in a few short minutes.
The Lord’s Prayer
The most familiar and universally used prayer is found in Matthew 6:9-13. So familiar in fact, as the prayer is used in weddings, graduations, funeral services, and countless church services, we miss the genius content of its deeper multi-layers for a deeper experience. For the longest time I’d pass through it quickly when reading the prayer and not give the best of attention while reciting it either.
The Lord’s Prayer is of course wonderfully beautiful, poetic, and powerful, just as it is; but one day this thought emerged in my mind. I began to think of how multi- layered God and his kingdom is in all of who he is and what he has made. The Lord’s Prayer included.
Think about how often you have read a section of the Bible, received some gem of truth to apply to your life, but then read the same section a few days later and come away with additional gems you didn’t see the first time around.
The Lord’s Prayer is the same. It is like walking into the entrance of a castle. You may be able to observe everything in the entryway in which you are standing, but there is so much more to see and experience throughout the rest of the castle beyond the entrance.
This thought led me to two conclusions:
First, the disciples had observed the effectiveness of Jesus’ ministry and observed prayer as one of his mainstays. When they asked him to teach them to pray, he purposefully responded with the paramount prayer.
Is it the only way to pray, is it the only pattern? No, but do you think for a minute that Jesus, who wanted his disciples then and now, to experience the apex effect from prayer, would give them his less than best prayer model? No way! He presented them with his “A” plan, the best and winning pattern for prayer.
Second, though his prayer to them is a work of truth and beauty as written, it is also his divine multi-layered outline for a tremendous deep dive into intercession if desired. Not only that, but it is the divine design for daily living as well. Here it is:
- The Father, holy and above all, is to be honored, acknowledged, and worshiped first and foremost.
- His kingdom and will is to be pursued and declared above all else and sought above our own will and want.
- The provision we pray for, is for the purpose of fulfilling the mission of his kingdom and his will. When the goal is truly for God and his will, there is no lack and there are no shortfalls.
- Live the life of forgiveness. As we received forgiveness, let us in turn extend forgiveness to others in the same manner and capacity.
- Pray and seek the right paths, the good paths, his paths. Ask to avoid all distractions from any but his paths.
- Pray for, and live expectantly in, the protection of God who alone can keep us from the strategies of the evil one who would harm us.
- The doxology! This is the capstone of acknowledgement and praise. This is the overriding banner of life which acknowledges God as the singular eternal superior power and authority, over all things forever. Worship him in all his wonder!
There is so much more waiting for you in the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus has given you his best plan for successful prayer and the best outline for life you could live. The Lord’s Prayer is your road map for your life; it’s a treasure map, really; use it.