Lord – teach us to pray! How many of us echo this rather desperate prayer? Jesus – I need help to pray!
I like this prayer. One reason is because as soon as I pray, Lord please help us pray, I have started praying! My prayer for help is itself a step in the right direction. My inadequacy can be a spark that starts a fire.
Jesus does answer the please help prayer. He answers it with a prayer. I can simply pray the prayer, just over fifty words long. But, very cleverly, it is also a map. It is a tried and tested route for me to follow.
Stage 1: Our Father in heaven. I start with knowing I am loved. I begin with celebrating I am a son. This is where Jesus began at his baptism: “You are my son whom I love”. Jesus invites us into that relationship! I can revel in God’s gracious love. I can enjoy my welcome from my Father.
Stage 2: Hallowed be your name. To hallow is to set something apart and make it special; to put it first. In Israel the Sabbath was a holy day to put God first, the Levites were holy people who put God first and the Temple was a holy place where God was. Jesus invites me to put God first on every day and in every place. He invites me to step aside from my needs, desires, plans and pains and simply celebrate God. I am a holy person standing on holy ground.
Stage 3: Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In heaven there is no injustice or poverty, or adultery or anger or sickness or violence or unbelief! Jesus invites me to ask God to do on earth what God clearly enjoys doing in heaven. This is not me trying to get God to do what I want. This is me believing for what God wants.
Stage 4: Give us today our daily bread. After Israel was set free from slavery in Egypt by the blood of the sacrificed lamb, they ended up in the desert. In the desert journey there was clearly a short term memory problem. They got very grumbly about the lack of food. Do you think that God who provided the great deliverance would forget about the catering? They were given bread from heaven every day and quail kebabs at night. God has provided a great deliverance for me in Christ. God knows my needs before I ask. God wants me to ask. I just need to watch that I don’t get grumbly.
Step 5: Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. How many of my sins does Jesus forgive? All! The blood of Christ is enough. It is so good for me to take a moment to receive the fullness of God’s forgiveness. And then I can give that forgiveness out generously to all around me. It is very releasing to forgive others.
Step 6: Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from the evil one. Jesus was led by the Spirit into an encounter with Evil. There he was victorious. I don’t fight people. I am up against the evil powers. Spiritual warfare is a reality in the Christian life. Jesus invites us to pray in his victory.
Step 7: Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, amen. God is my first word and God is my last. I am first and last a worshipper.
I often fail in prayer. Putting it more positively, I am on a journey and have much to learn. I find praying this prayer, the Lord’s prayer, so helpful in my struggle against my own weakness. Every Tuesday in Devoted we will be praying this prayer together. Do come along. You will be enriched and helped!