By: Kristen L. McNulty
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Although prayer is great for asking things of God, it should also be a time to build our relationship with Him. You can't have a good relationship with some one that you never communicate with. I'll be honest with you, it can be hard to know what we should be praying for, but God hasn't left us hanging- He's given us an example in His word. Although many churches have used the Our Father as more of a prayer to be chanted, some would suggest that it's a model guide for our prayers. I don't think God wants to hear His own words from us, but rather our words to Him. I'm going to break down the Our Father to show you what I think this model prayer is calling us to pray for. I'm going to take the version of the Our Father found in Matthew 6:9-13 (New Living Translation)...
"Our Father in heaven,"
Just like on the front of an envelope we address who we want it to go to and where the mail man can find them, our prayer should address the God of Heaven.
"may your name be honored."
Honor means to respect or give reverence. Our prayer should be that we honor God through our daily lives and in our prayer lives.
"May your Kingdom comes soon,"
Praying for God's Kingdom to come soon is praying for the Rapture to come quickly. If you're like most Christian's you are probably excited for eternity in Heaven. Praying for it to happen soon is asking God for what our hearts are longing for.
"May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven."
Many times in prayer we approach God with a request. Sometimes it can be to change a situation, to heal a loved one, or to guide us in decisions. When praying we should always be praying for God's will to be done rather than our own. Asking for God's will to be done is saying "Lord this is what I want, but I trust you to do what's best."
"Give us our food for today,"
We all love being independent, but not too many of us like to be dependent on someone or something. I hate to break it to you, but as Christians we are supposed to be dependent on God alone. By asking God to take care of our daily needs such as food, clothing, housing, ect, we are acknowledging that we trust Him to provide us with the things we need.
"and forgive us our sins,"
Forgiveness- what a wonderful thing God has provided free of charge and full of Grace. But how often we take advantage of this gift. By daily asking God for forgiveness of the sins we've committed it helps to keep things in perspective, to realize how much we really need forgiveness. It's also what God expects us to do. We don't need to go to a priest and confess our sins, confession and forgiveness is just a prayer away.
"just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us."
God forgives us, but He also expects us to forgive others. Forgiving others doesn't always come very easily, but we can always use prayer to ask God for the strength to do so. The pastor of my church was discussing forgiveness during a youth retreat and he said that if you have trouble forgiving someone try praying for them every time you think of them. This method is very effective, and is quite possibly why God listed this line in the model prayer.
"And don't let us yield to temptation,"
The word yield means to surrender in defeat. We should never surrender in defeat to Satan's temptation, rather we should pray to God for the strength to defeat the temptation.
"but deliver us from the evil one."
Having trouble telling the truth? Ask for deliverance from lying. Tempted to gossip? Ask for deliverance from gossiping. Just like God delivered the Israelites from pharaoh in Exodus, so can God deliver us from the devil if we ask Him to.
While our prayer should include things mentioned in the Our Father, we should also talk to God about things that our bothering us, about what's going on our lives, and about what He wants of us. Talking to God also means listening for a response. We may not always hear what some refer to as the voice of God pressing on our hearts, but it's important to spend the time in silence giving God an opportunity to speak to our hearts. No conversation should be one sided.
This devotional was aired as a part of the Making A Difference Christian Radio Show.