How to Live the Words of the Lord's Prayer
- Thursday, July 02, 2009
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Albert Haase's new book, Living the Lord’s Prayer: The Way of the Disciple, (IVP Books, 2009).
The Lord’s Prayer is so familiar that it’s easy to take the words for granted when you pray them. But if you do more than just say the words – if you actually live them – the prayer will invite God’s power into your life and transform you for the better.
Here’s how you can live the words you pray in the Lord’s Prayer:
“Our Father”: Pray for a healthy image of God that reflects Jesus’ experience as “Abba” – an affectionate term for a Father who loves deeply and unconditionally. God isn’t a cold, aloof Creator who has abandoned His people; nor is He an insensitive judge who nonchalantly rules creation heartlessly. God is close to you, pouring out His love into your life no matter what, and offering you strength and courage whenever you need them. Let your gratitude for God’s deep love in your life motivate you to perform selfless acts of sacrificial love for others – just as Christ has done for you. Recognize that you’re part of a huge spiritual family: All people are made in God’s image, and fellow believers are your brothers and sisters in Christ. Since God is “our” Father, spiritual formation is about God, others, and you. Ask God to give you the love He wants you to have for other people. Intercede in prayer for them regularly. Pray for opportunities to use what you’ve learned through your own suffering to help other people who are struggling in similar ways. Welcome and accept all people – no matter how different they are from you.
“Who art in heaven”: Since the God who lives in heaven has taken on human flesh as Christ, He has made it possible for you to experience the extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary. Ask God to help you be alert to what He’s doing in your life right here and now. Don’t try to limit God to just what you can understand of Him. He transcends all images and descriptions people use to represent Him. Expect that you may learn something valuable about God from interacting with the people He has made in His image. Avoid judging people based on superficial attributes like their appearances. Get to know them and look for the Holy Spirit at work within their souls. Keep in mind that God is just as much at work in people who our culture tends to ignore – such as the disabled, the elderly, and the poor – as He is in other people. Look for reflections of God in every person you meet.
“Hallowed be thy name”: As you walk in God’s constant presence with you, you become aware of your own sinfulness contrasting with His holiness. That leads to humility, in which you recognize just how much you really need God. Recognize your own unworthiness, and remember that God is the source of all of your gifts, accomplishments, and talents. He gave you life and salvation. You owe everything to God, so live each day to please Him, as a way of expressing your love and gratitude.
“Thy kingdom come”: God wants to use you to help bring more of His kingdom to our fallen world. Your words and actions can help bring about God’s intentions for the world. When you pray for God’s kingdom to come, you help answer that prayer by engaging the world and bringing peace, love, and justice to it – one person and situation at a time. Whenever you respond to God’s call in the midst of ordinary moments by planting seeds of peace, love, and justice, they grow and blossom, expanding God’s kingdom on earth.
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