Why do we need a spine?
Reflections on the Lord’s Prayer Part 2
The spine helps hold up our body. The spine allows all other structure to function effectively. Muscles and tendons work well when attached to the bone. A muscle torn off the bone shrivels up and is ineffective (2).
Following from my previous post, we learn that Jesus’s structured prayer helps train us, like pilots, to be able to pray effectively even on auto pilot mode. Our prayers will hang onto one of the petitions of the Lord’s prayer. We can devotionally paraphrase the petitions and add our requests and supplications.
Muscle properly attached to the bone can be exercised to become stronger and more effective. Our devotional prayer, attached to the petitions of the Lord’s prayer can strengthen our prayer life, and expand it to areas we normally may not have addressed.
Our focus will be directed to areas we might otherwise have forgotten to pray about.
Once we pray as Jesus taught us in the proper way, it will deepen our walk with God and help us navigate difficulties of life experiencing a supernatural peace that surpasses all understanding.
The Lords Prayer breaks down all aspect of “how to pray” into short petitions. The traditional form of this prayer, based on Matthew 6:9-13 is as follows:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.
As a Guide to Prayer, we can make the following points:
- Start by acknowledging and worshipping God
Our prayer always starts with acknowledging God as beyond time, space and matter (in heaven v.9), and always ends with a doxology “Yours is the Kingdom, the power and the glory forever” v.13.
Prayer starts with God and ends with God.
Spend time praising God, in song or words, as you start with words of praise to the prayer “Our Father who art in heaven”
We can then go into the petitions.
2. Jesus asks us to start with petitions addressed to God first!
- Hallowed be thy Name – i.e. asking God to make His name holy, and for His Name to be exalted. Remember that men called upon the Name of God right from Genesis 4:24).
- Thy Kingdom come – i.e. just as Jesus has brought us salvation, and the Kingdom of Heaven is with us, we pray that the Kingdom (i.e. the number of true true believers in this world) will increase. This is a prayer where we can add our mission focus and praying for our non believer friends/family.
- Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven– i.e. God’s will is presently perfectly followed in heaven. As the people of God, we ask that we too will live by His will, and to do what He desires. We pray that we will be the instruments to reveal His will to a disobedient and rebellious world. Especially to sin and deception in churches
3. We then go to petitions for ourselves
- Give us this day our daily bread – we pray for all our needs and for us to be a channel to alleviate the needs of others who are less fortunate. The Hebrew word for “bread” refers to the “next 24 hours”, which is why we pray “this day”.
Literally give us this day means our “next 24 hours”.
- And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us – this request for forgiveness is for our daily transgressions of thought, word and deed.
Note: Our salvation is secure. But daily sins affect our fellowship with God, so these daily “fellowship” sins need to be confessed and forgiven (1 John1:9).
In addition, any daily trespasses against us by others (family, friend, church) needs to be forgiven. Jesus says He has forgiven us much, so we must forgive the little that others have done to us, especially if they ask forgiveness (Matthew18:21-35).
- And lead us not into temptation – as we end our daily petitions of prayer, we need to be protected from areas of temptation that may be unique to us. Address these directly, as each of us has a different vulnerability.
- but deliver us from evil – finish by asking to be protected from all evil. The Hebrew word suggests that it can also be translated as the “evil one”, i.e. the devil.
We ask God to protect us from the wiles of the devil. I believe petition/prayer is essential as we have to go out into the world on a daily basis.
4. Finish by acknowledging and worshiping God again
We end as we started. With God. And declaring His greatness, power majesty, splendor. For an example of this see David’s prayer in 1 Chronicles 29:10-20 where he says
10 “Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. 11 Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.
Jesus gives us a comprehensive yet short prayer. We are free to add context and word suitable to our situation to each aspect of the prayer, just as David has done. This makes our prayers fresh and meaningful.
May a structured prayer life develop into a deeply devotional prayer life, by the power of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God.
+ Bishop Dr Raj
Dr Joshua Raj accepted Jesus as Saviour in medical school. He has a passion for preaching and teaching, and to share God’s word with those who do not know Christ. He holds a postgraduate theology degree and was ordained in 2002 and consecrated bishop in 2009 . He blogs at the Sword and Scalpel Reflections.