Day 18: The Prayer Jesus Taught Us

[The following is adapted from Live Prayerfully: How Ordinary Lives Become Prayerful]

Certainly, as followers of Christ, no other prayer is as central to us as the one that Jesus taught us. I know of no sense in which we can call ourselves followers of Jesus without taking very seriously the words he gave us when he said, “When you pray, pray like this, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven...’”

One way that I have found particularly helpful to be guided by Jesus’ prayer is to allow it to focus my prayers for others and for myself. For example, let’s say I am praying for my children. I can pray for them by saying,

Our Father in heaven, and be mindful and thankful that whether I’m with them or away from them, that God is present with and caring for them just as he is present with and caring for me.

I pray, hallowed be thy name, and I’m praying that God’s name would be treasured and honored in their lives and in mine.

And I continue on through the prayer, being mindful of praying it for the other person. Then I can pray, Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, in my children and in our family, just as it is in heaven, praying that their lives in this world, today and always would be an extension of God’s life among us.

And I pray, Give us this day our daily bread, praying that my little boy and my little girl would have all of the things they need today to live their lives fully in God: physically, emotionally, spiritually, relationally, in every way.

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us... My children are now at the age that, regardless of what time of day you might be reading this, they've likely built a list of things for which they need forgiveness. As I pray this for them, I am praying particularly that they would always know our home to be a place of forgiveness and mercy. They’re going to mess up, and by praying this I’m in part praying that when that time comes, I’ll be a forgiving father to them just as my Father has forgiven me.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. What better thing to pray for your children, or for whomever, than that they would be led along, not in the ways of the world around them, but in God’s ways, and that they would be completely and fully delivered from all the kinds of evil that will ever be a threat to them every day of their lives?

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. These kids are my children, yet they are God’s children. Just as my name is on the line in their lives, because we’ve entrusted them to God, his name is on the line with them too, and so I pray that their lives will, today and always, give him glory.

It’s interesting that we know even as early as 60 A.D., within a generation of Jesus’ own life, even before much of the New Testament had been written, Christians were being instructed to pray these words of Jesus three times a day. Certainly we can benefit from doing the same, and perhaps you'd like to take up that practice for the remainder of Lent, realizing when you pray these words, you're joining together with millions of other Christians around the world praying them today, and throughout history, all around the world.

A Prayer for the Day:

O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom: Defend us, your humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries; through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.*

A Prayer for the Week:

Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.*

Click here for this week's scripture readings.

*From The Book of Common Prayer

[This is part of 40 Days of Prayer: Daily Emails for Lent]