“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today 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 the evil one.’” Matthew 6:9-13
Jesus didn’t say, “This is what you should pray,” like it was a magic formula, that if you pray these exact words in this exact order God would give you whatever you wanted. Jesus said, “This is how you should pray.” He gave us the Lord’s Prayer as a way to remember the essence of praying to our Heavenly Father. Here’s an easy way to remember the key aspects of Lord’s Prayer:
P – Praise your Dad. “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” Matthew 6:9
Before you ask for anything, start by praising God. This isn’t because God needs to be reminded how awesome He is. It’s because you need to be reminded about how awesome God is. How important is praising God? What difference does it make? To use a football analogy, it’s all about field position. Let’s say the other team kicks off the ball and your team is returning it. If the ball is downed at your 1-yard line, and you have to drive 99 yards to score a touchdown, that’s pretty tough. But what if you catch the ball and return it 80 yards? Now, before you ever run an offensive play, instead of being back up at your 1-yard line, you’re in their red zone, and scoring is a ton easier. Field position matters. Before you start asking for anything, when you spend time praising God, it’s improving your field position. So spend time doing it. And the reason I said Praise your Dad instead of Praise God is to remind you of the relational aspect. God is not some cold distant being. He is your loving Heavenly Father who wants to talk with you.
R – Recognize what’s important. “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10
Again, still not asking for anything yet. What you’re doing here is reminding yourself that God’s kingdom and God’s will is the most important. Recognize that. “It’s not about me, God, it’s about you.” Recognize the mission of God over your preferences.
A – Ask for what you need. “Give us today our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11
Now we get to the asking part, and God does want us to ask Him for things, but by the time we’ve spent time praising God, we’ve reminded ourselves that God can do anything, and once we recognize what’s important we’ve whittled down our wish list from what we would like to what we need. We ask for daily bread, enough to meet our needs. We don’t ask out of entitlement or for what would spoil us.
Y – Yield to forgiveness. “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12
Don’t rush past the point that forgiveness is so incredibly powerful and vital to the human experience that Jesus includes it in the Lord’s Prayer. Why is it important enough to pray for regularly? Because forgiveness is hard. If you wait to forgive until you feel like forgiving, you’ll never forgive. Forgiveness is a choice, and it takes boldness to forgive, so ask God for the strength. We yield to forgiveness when we submit and allow ourselves to embrace God’s forgiveness of us, which is tough, because some of you can forgive anyone but yourselves. And we need to yield to God’s plan that forgiving others leads to our freedom, whether they deserve it or not. Yield to forgiveness.
E – Exorcise the enemy. “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:13
To ‘exorcise simply’ means to push out or drive out. There is an enemy out there that wants to steal your joy and destroy your life. Through Jesus, you have the victory. But it’s a victory you need to remind yourself of and the enemy of on a daily basis. Exorcising the enemy is simply declaring out loud, “God is on his throne, the devil is a liar, and the blood of Jesus has saved me. Not today, Satan, not today.”
R – Remember who wins. “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Matthew 6:13
This is how the Lord’s Prayer traditionally ends. God wins. Finish with that.
Here are some other blog posts I’ve written about prayer: