Prayer is important. It’s a conversation with God. It’s personal. It’s biblical. Sometimes it’s silent and sometimes it’s loud. Sometimes it’s by yourself and sometimes it’s with others.
I’ll admit that when I pray, a lot of prayers are about me, here and now. Like praying about a test coming up or drama with friends or for a safe drive. These aren’t bad prayers. But they’re full of me. I also pray for discernment and wisdom and “I believe, but help my unbelief.” These are all good prayers. In a conversation with our Heavenly Father, our Creator, these are good things to pray.
But sometimes I just don’t know what to pray, and sometimes in those moments I’m quiet. I shut up and listen, and listening is awesome. Conversations go both ways, so give God a second or five before you hang up with “Amen.”
But other times when I don’t know how to pray or what to say, I say words for the sake of words. I heap up empty phrases. I include biblical ideas, but sometimes my mind just goes blank on what to say.
In Matthew 6, Jesus warns against hypocrisy in almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. In 5:20 he says “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
He continues in Chapter 6, He is speaking at the Sermon on the Mount and in verses 5-15, he says, “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Various Christian traditions recite this version in church:
Our Father who art in heaven,
This is who we are praying to: a parent who loves His children who resides in Heaven- our hopeful ultimate destination and home.
Hallowed be thy name,
Reverence and adoration for God. Not our wants or desires, but a prayer that we consecrate and keep holy His name and renown.
Thy Kingdom come,
A prayer for His Kingdom and fruition coming to the world. A prayer that His kingdom is being built by our lives.
Thy will be done,
Asking for God’s will and perfect union with him to be fulfilled. Asking to give up our selfish wills in submission of His perfect will. Matthew 26:39 says “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
On earth as it is in heaven.
Heaven is our ultimate destination. Let’s make disciples wherever we go, to tell of His goodness. Let’s invite heaven to fall down on earth.
Give us this day,
Call on him daily and let him lead you through, tomorrow has enough worries of its own. It is a chance to recognize new mercies and new breath.
Our daily bread,
He sustains us. He is the spiritual bread, the only thing that satisfies the heart and sustains the body.
And forgive us our trespasses
This is a petition for grace and a chance to confess our sins.
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
We forgive others because he first forgave us. Matthew 10:8: “Freely you have received so freely give.” Mark 11:25: “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
And lead us not into temptation,
Asking God to help lead us away from that sin. God tempts no one (James 1:13) but this is a chance to lean on Him and His faithfulness.
But deliver us from evil.
We have an armor of God, but we must realize our helplessness and need for God to save us from the sin of the world.
For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.
Another chance to praise Him recognize His power and glory, You are it God, all we need is in you forever.
“So be it.”
I’m learning that prayer is sacred, and whether we do or don’t know what to say, we should pray like Jesus taught. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done. On Earth as it is in Heaven.
Let us not read or recite this prayer mindlessly. I pray we come to these words with humble adoration for the God of the universe. I pray we come to these words, and we let them lead us. I’m learning that the Lord’s prayer is not just something I memorized in Sunday School or something I just recite in unison at church. The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer after God’s own heart. The Lord’s Prayer is Jesus’ prayer, and I pray that it’s also mine, both when I know what to say and when I don’t.
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven, always.
Stahr Stembel is a sophomore Religion and Psychology major and Political Science minor from Tucker, Ga. She loves a lot of things but at the top of her list are road trips, National Parks, and RaceTrac fro-yo. You can usually find her reading on her front porch or finding a new trail on Berry’s campus. After Berry she plans on doing whatever the Lord calls her to do even though she has no clue what that is yet.