Thursday, 31 May 2012

How do you pray?

When I was a child we always said the Lord's Prayer as part of assembly each morning. Much as I love this prayer I ended up in secondary school rhyming it off without ever thinking about the words. Many of the kids I grew up with hadn't even been taught it properly - just through listening to everyone saying it, so there were a few hilarious moments where people would say the weirdest things and think that it was right!
But the Lord's Prayer is so much more important than something to be said without feeling or heart. This is the prayer that our Lord taught His disciples, showing them the difference between true faith and a relationship with God and other religions based on repetition and acts.
The King James Version - which we learnt as children: (Matthew 6:9-13)
"Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed by thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thine will be done,
in 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.
Even writing it out brings back memories of school! But it is so much more than that. It is a visual reminder of how important prayer is and how amazing God is to give us such an easy way to communicate with Him.
"Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed by thy name"
If we look at this - we need to start every prayer with God. He is an amazing God - much more amazing, awesome, wonderful, holy and special than our human minds and hearts can ever comprehend, yet He allows us to come into His presence with our words. And He listens to each and every one of them. How can we not praise and worship Him every time we come to Him - yet so often it is a quick 'please God...' or a 'will you...' prayer. He is our creator - the author and perfecter of our faith. We need to remember who we are dealing with and how much we need to respect Him while we pray.
That's not to say that I don't believe we are His children, and that He is our Father, but sometimes it's too easy to come to God like one of my children who just says 'mummy' twenty times a day without really thinking about it. He is our Father God and we need to respect Him and speak to Him respectively.

"Thy kingdom come,
Thine will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven."

As Christians we also have a visual reminder here that our goal is not to be of the world - but that our home and God's Kingdom is in heaven - and that we want His will to be done here on earth just as it is in His heavenly realm. Can you imagine how different our world would be if this were the case - and yet we can pray for this to become reality and as we shine and others see God through us, come to know and love Him as Saviour, then it actually does happen!! We may only be able to help one person at a time, but that's still one more person who's name is written in the Lamb's book of life.
"Give us this day our daily bread."
And He supplies all that we need. We're given the example of daily bread - but as we look through the Bible we can see that God really does care about each and everything that is happening to us and really does supply everything we need. As a 'missionary' in full-time work for God, I have countless stories or where God has met a need in an amazing way - from a box of groceries left on my doorstep, to someone making me a meal when I needed it most, to my husband's flights being paid for by a cheque for the exact amount coming through the letter-box. God is an amazing God and we need to remember to thank Him and give Him the glory for everything that He does.
"And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us."

We also need to remember that we are sinners. God has given us salvation through His Son, but we need to remember to confess our sins and truly repent from them. And as verse 15 reminds us, we also need to forgive others who have wronged us if we are expecting God to forgive us. Are we right with others and God before we throw our requests at Him?
"And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil"

And we can ask Him for protection and deliverance as we go through our days. Every morning my husband goes through putting on the Armour of God with our family. We all stand and put on each item as we talk about how our day will go and how each item will help us be the best Christians we can be today. It is amazing to see my boys (who granted love all things battle and war-related) put on each item and stand tall as they go out into the world, safe in the knowledge that they have a God who is bigger than anything that will be thrown at them that day.
"For Thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.

And finally - we need to turn it right back to God, giving Him the glory, the honour and recognising that all power is in His hands. He is the one we trust and rely on and He is the one who holds us in the palm of His hand - never to let us go.
Sorry this has turned out to be a long post - but there is such a lot in this prayer - and I've bearly scratched the surface. I love just sitting reading it and remembering that it was my Lord and Saviour who said these words and how much it meant to Him.
Tomorrow I'll be looking at an easy acrostic for praying that we use with the kids and a few more examples of how I pray. Hope this is helping you as much as it's helping me.
So until tomorrow... remember to

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