- 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
- Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
- For yours is the kingdom, power, and glory forever! Amen
What’s it been like to pray these days? How much vitality is in your prayer life? How close does God feel? What do you often pray for?
My default prayer experience, even after years of being taught how to pray, consistently drifts toward self-centred prayers. I often lose motivation to draw close to God and actually worship him.
I desperately need the Holy Spirit to awaken me to worship, to draw me back to relationship, and to guide me into praying for kingdom priorities. Fortunately, Jesus gave us a prayer that does just that: the Lord’s Prayer.
Jesus speaks in Matthew 6:9-13:
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.
As I align my prayers with the prayer Jesus taught his disciples, this posture fosters a more dynamic relationship with God, allows for heartfelt worship, and transforms my desires.
Here is how the famous prayer of Jesus is shaping me.
Jesus starts with first things first. He reminds me that I relate to God as my heavenly Father. He is my Creator after all. But he is also my Father because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross: God has not only forgiven me of my sins but also adopted me into his family. My Father in heaven gives me the status, rights, and blessings that Jesus has!
As I start my prayers meditating on this good news and the privilege of calling God my Father, I am encouraged and my heart is warmed to him.
When I contemplate God’s glory and the honour due his name as creator, sustainer, and redeemer of all things, my sense of awe and worship is deepened. I grow in my desire to live a life that reflects that God is preeminent.
Prayer is not about me and getting what I want. It is about wanting God’s kingdom in my life and the lives of those around me. When I consider Jesus’ description of God’s kingdom, where the first are last and the last are first, it shocks me because it is so different from the way human kingdoms operate.
In praying for God’s kingdom to come, I’m also calling on Jesus to change my heart to desire his kingdom priorities.
My prayers can quickly become a form of wishing for my will to be done. But by seeking to know God’s will through anchoring myself in the Bible and contemplating its application to my life, I can steer away from the tendency toward lists of requests that are mostly selfish and connected to my own advancement.
In this prayer, I can learn to trust my heavenly Father as I ask him to provide for my needs. Here Jesus teaches me how to rest from my anxieties: I come to my heavenly Father with my needs. As I do, over time I am transformed to have an attitude of thanksgiving, enjoyment, contentment, and generosity as I receive what is freely given, rather than earned.
Confessing my sin to God and experiencing his forgiveness is an ongoing part of prayer. When I am mindful of God’s unconditional love for me, I can then extend forgiveness to others who have offended me. I always need to be examining my attitudes in relationships: “Am I forgiving others as Jesus has forgiven me?”
I am invited to ask God to safeguard me from temptation in the first place. I also recognize my need for God’s support and deliverance in the midst of temptation when it comes. I need help because I am spiritually weak, often physically tired, and am aware of the source of tempting desires that grow up within me. As Scripture reminds us:
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:13-15)
This prayer reminds me that the kingdom belongs to God, and it is only by his power and for his glory that he brings it into reality. This safeguards me from any saviour complex, from self-salvation, and from striving to bring the kingdom through my own ambition.
By faith, I can trust that God is establishing his kingdom in this present time, while having ultimate hope that all the prophecies about his coming kingdom will be fulfilled in the future. These verses remind me to put my hope in God’s faithfulness and mercy to bring his kingdom:
Because of the Lord’s covenant faithfulness, we do not perish. His mercies never fail: they are new every morning. How great is your faithfulness, O God. So I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance, therefore I will put my hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:22-24)
I am thankful for this prayer Jesus taught us to pray. Its structure reminds me to develop my relationship to God my Father, to worship him, and to desire his kingdom priorities.
[Editor’s Note: This article belongs to our series on “What forms us?” Of course, it’s ultimately God who shapes us toward Christ-likeness. But we hope these reflections encourage awareness and inspire intentionality in how we live. For more articles in this series, click the #whatformsus tag.]