How to Live the Words of the Lord's Prayer
- Thursday, July 02, 2009
“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”: Discerning God’s will isn’t about figuring out exactly what God is thinking about every decision you face. Instead, it’s about learning how make faith-based decisions – to let your faith guide your decision-making process so you can choose what’s best. When you become aware that you’re approaching a critical juncture in your life that demands that you make a wise decision, aim to respond thoughtfully and prayerfully, rather than simply react. Try to distance yourself from your ego (your obsession with self-concern, self-image, self-preservation, and self-gratification). Remember and respect the commitments you’ve previously made to God, other people, and yourself. As you reflect on various options, reject ones that will feed into a self-centered agenda and seriously consider those that will help you draw closer to God. Think about which options are consistent with your values and the direction in which your life has been moving. Let Scripture inform the process by reminding you of what God calls you to be. Dialogue with other believers, asking questions and discussing how you and others may be affected by your decision. Consider your energy and passions – whether or not you have a natural inclination to pursue a particular option. Do you want to do it, and are you capable of carrying out that decision? Then take action at the right time (when you’re not experiencing too much emotional stress). Expect that, when you’ve made a wise decision, God will often respond by giving you peace afterward to confirm that you’ve chosen well.
“Give us this day our daily bread”: When you pray for God to provide for your daily needs, you recognize your absolute dependency and existential poverty before God. He has given you everything – from your looks and personality, to your friends and job, and even the air you breathe when you take your next breath. Through teaching you to pray for something as ordinary as bread, Christ teaches you that no concern is too trivial to place before God. Pray about everything that concerns you – no matter how insignificant it may seem – trusting that God cares and will answer in His way and in His time. Pray for humility and childlike faith in God’s providence. Then seek to become what you receive, by serving others every day so God can use you to help meet their needs through your life. Volunteer at a food bank or hospital. Visit lonely people in nursing homes. Tutor children who are struggling in school. The possibilities for you to help bring “daily bread” to others are endless.
“Forgive us our trespasses”: God will free you from debilitating guilt when you pray for forgiveness. No sin is written in indelible ink. God’s mercy has no limits. He will respond to your prayers for forgiveness by forgetting the past, welcoming you home with arms opened wide, and giving you the strength to help you move forward well.
“As we forgive those who trespass against us”: Let your gratitude for God’s forgiveness of your own sins motivate you to obey His call to forgive others who have hurt or offended you. Pray for the ability to avoid judging and condemning others, and the grace to break free of poisonous bitterness. Rely on God to help you through the forgiveness process; remember that it’s always possible to forgive – despite your feelings – with God’s help. Pursue inner healing by: remembering that Christ is always with you offering love and compassion, taking a fresh look at the past event and the feelings it raised inside of you (through praying about it and talking about it with people you trust, like friends, a counselor or a support group), step through your pain to temporarily put yourself in the place of the one who hurt or offended you so you can better understand that person’s heart and the brokenness in his or her life, asking Christ to do His healing work in your heart, and letting your healing lead you to greater compassion for others who are struggling and motivate you to reach out to them to help.
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