It’s day 3 of our month-long prayer challenge, and we’re going to go right back to the basics.
Day 3: Pray the Lord’s Prayer, Conversationally
It’s safe to say that no other prayer has had such a formative affect on the life and spirituality of the church. When Jesus’ disciples pulled in close and asked him to teach them to pray, Jesus gave them an unparalleled model for conversation with God.
And while there are many books and hours of teaching on this prayer (I’ve done some myself, along with four of my friends, which you can find here.), there’s no replacing the simple practice of praying it.
So I’m not going to load up today’s post with teaching–I just want to offer some practical guidance on how we might pray it, here on day 3 of our Pray-May Challenge.
Before we do that, though, there are a number of versions of the Lord’s prayer. Which one should you pray? My advice: just pick the one you know, and pray that–be it with a “thy” or a “yours”, “debts” or “trespasses” or “sins”, “the evil one” or just “evil”. Whatever you’re used to will work best for you today. If you are less familiar with the Lord’s Prayer, I’ve included one version at the bottom for you to pray.
Here’s 4 practical suggestions for praying the Lord’s Prayer today (or any day).
First, I’d like to encourage you to pray the Lord’s Prayer three times. In fact, I want you to decide when those three times are, and mark them in your daytimer or phone. Perhaps you will pray it as soon as you are done reading this, then at lunch, and after supper. But whatever works for you, choose three times to pray it, giving yourself around 5-8 minutes each time.
Second, when you do pray the Lord’s Prayer, do not rush through it. Take it leisurely, and pause between phrases. As you have already set aside a few minutes, don’t feel any compulsion to get to the end quickly. The goal of the Lord’s Prayer is to enjoy a conversation with God, not to finish a conversation with God.
Third, in the pauses, listen. Following each phrase, open the ears of your heart to hear how the Father is responding to your words. As you ask him for the provision of daily bread, is he saying anything to you about the stress or anxiety you are carrying? When you ask him to forgive you, as you have forgiven others, does he bring up someone you’ve been forgetting? Let this prayer be a dialogue, not a monologue, between you and your Father who is both in heaven, and yet so very near to you.
And fourth, let the prayer become a framework for further conversation. As you pray the phrases, then pause to listen, what else comes to your mind? Is there more to say to the Father about his will being done, perhaps in a situation you’ve been feeling heavy about or a relationship that’s been struggling? Do you feel drawn to name a few people who need to be delivered from evil? The Spirit may be wanting to intercede for them through you. This wonderful prayer has long been understood as a model and framework for our whole conversational life with the Father, and we are invited into that exchange by Jesus himself, empowered by the Spirit we’ve been given.
That’s it. Enjoy this practice today. It’s such a luxurious, decadent treat from Jesus, designed for us to enjoy with his Father.
And remember: I’m praying for you, today. May the Father’s kingdom come, and his will be gloriously done, in you, in your own place on earth, and in all of us, wherever we are, just as it is where God rules supreme. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer, a common version you can pray:
Our Father, who is 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.
Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever, amen.