A way to pray
Our Lord himself gave us a format for prayer in
Matthew 6: 9–13. It is an amazing prayer, with every aspect of our lives and
needs sown into it. The Lord’s Prayer can be used as a basis for prayerful
meditation, and provides a framework for prayer at any time. Try taking each
step separately and pondering on the bits in italics, which you will find
become points of worship. It will develop into a type of prayer that ‘comes
Ponder on how amazing it is that we can call the Creator of the universe our father. More than that, we can address Him as ‘Abba’ (Romans 8: 15)—the language a child uses. Just as a father never wishes anything bad for his child, so God views us. Think about that amazing relationship and what it means that you are a child in God’s family. When you have time, read Psalm 145, and ponder it.
Which art in heaven
Yes, God is in heaven (e.g., Psalm 11: 4)—that whole realm which we cannot yet see, but from which everything is under his care and control (Acts 17: 28). He is watching; and everything on Earth is His (Psalm 24:1). Think about that.
Hallowed by thy Name
Indeed. Jesus has the Name above all names (Philippians 2: 9). As we say in the liturgy, ‘Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.’ It is sometimes hard to take in just how deep and high and wide God’s glory is. He is above all things. As you ponder on God’s glory you will find that within your heart you are praising Him.
Thy kingdom come
Amen to that. What more can we want than for Jesus’s kingdom to be established on Earth. Well, it already is, of course, and as Christians we are already members of it, but we yearn for more. The whole of Creation yearns for more (Romans 8: 19–23). Thinking on that again induces worship.
Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven
Ponder on the fact that God’s will is supreme. Even Jesus, the creator of all in His former glory, was subject to it (Luke 22: 42); and we delight to do His will (Psalm 40: 8; 143: 10). We can never be truly content or at peace unless we are living in accord with God’s will. So naturally our desire is to align ourselves with His will. Imagine a world where everything conforms to His will as it does in heaven. How we yearn for that. Ponder these things and you will find your heart reaching out to God.
Give us this day our daily bread
This is the call of a child to its father. Our ‘bread’ is the word of God. Jesus is the bread of life (John 6: 48). We need God to give us his word for our daily life, each and every day, guiding and instructing us. Imagine your hands held out for God to put this ‘bread’ in. We beg for it, and it will be given (Matthew 7: 9).
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us
Naturally, when we come before God we need to declare our shortcomings and seek forgiveness (Psalm 51: 9–11; 103: 9–12). This is a natural part of our relationship with God, and this is the slot in this amazing prayer when we can do that. Our ‘Collect for Purity’ might be a helpful too, “Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden; cleanse the thoughts of my heart by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, so that I may truly love you and worthily praise your holy Name’.
And lead us not into temptation
There is so much in the world that tempts us to look away from God. Rather, we want God to lead us in His direction, without us falling away on account of the lure of worldly things (Psalm 5: 8; 27: 11, where the ‘enemy’ can be construed as anything working against God). Here you can think about the things that lead us astray and seek strength to resist.
But deliver us from evil.
God’s creation was initially perfect. Even He thought it was ‘good’, even ‘very good’ (Genesis 1: 31). After the fall of humankind (Genesis 3) the ‘thorns and thistles’ (Genesis 3: 18) entered our world, and here we are, subject to evil influences and attacks. But God knows all about that, and His people have his protection (Psalm 34: 7) and we can trust Him (Psalm 20: 7). But we have a role in praying for our fallen world. Many times when the Israelites were wandering in the desert they came within a hair’s breadth of destruction through God’s anger when they rebelled against him. The only thing that saved them was Moses’ intercession, pleading for mercy (e.g., Exodus 32: 11). Now that our world is under attack by the corona virus, we too can lift up our world to God, acknowledging on behalf of humanity how we have gone astray, and pleading for mercy on behalf of our fellow humans; asking also that people will be turned back to God. So there is ample provision in the Lord’s prayer for us to bring our thoughts to him. He knows our concerns, even if we can’t articulate them. Perhaps all we can do is sigh in helplessness, and visualise ourselves holding out the planet to God. We can let our minds wander over all our concerns: for people generally, family, friends, our church, medical workers, vaccine hunters, authorities, hospitals, and so on. We don’t need to have the answers—we just lift them to God while His Spirit within us (1 Corinthians 3: 16) intercedes on our behalf with words we do not know how to express (Romans 8: 26, 27). Then we trust and wait.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Murray Matthews, March 2020