Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“But when you pray, go into your most private room, and closing the door, pray to Your Father, Who is in secret … And when you pray, do not heap up phrases repeating the same ones over and over … pray, therefore like this.”
“The way God approaches the soul: I come to my beloved as the dew on the flower.”
Mechthild of Magdeburg
What do the words of the Lord’s Prayer mean to me?
“Lord, teach us to pray.”
King James Version
Do you remember the first time you ever prayed? For some of us, our first prayer may be a long-forgotten child’s verse we repeated years ago. Probably the first prayer I remember was saying “grace” before we ate: “God be blessed, God be good, let us thank Him for our food. AMEN.” You may have repeated the same prayer in your home before meals.
No doubt the most vivid recollection I have is when a teacher asked me to participate in a children’s Christmas pageant by opening the service, for adults no less, with prayer. I was a nervous wreck. I remember being grateful there was a podium to hang on to. It was bad enough getting up front with parents, teachers and guests looking on. But to have to pray at the same time was a daunting task for a nine-year-old girl.
Over the last few days, we’ve studied the ways God invites us into His intimate presence. First, He asks us to draw near to Him. Then He tells us He listens before we even verbalize our requests. He asks us to call on Him – anywhere, anytime and anyway. He even says, “Ask me for anything!” Then He promises He will hear us and answer our requests because it brings glory to our heavenly Father. And in one of the most comforting and gracious acts, He tells us He will show us, in a tangible way, how He will respond to our needs. What’s more, He reinforces and underlines His faithfulness to us by reminding us that He has already given us the most spectacular and complete gift in the Universe – the gift of Christ Jesus, His Son.
Maybe you and I feel a little like Jesus’ disciples right now. They had walked with Jesus every day. They had seen prayer in action in the life of Jesus. They had watched as He gained strength by spending time alone with His Father. They were moved as He returned from a night in prayer, having refreshed His own well, ready to water the life of others with the living water replenished by time with His Father each day.
As the disciples watched and learned as they walked with Jesus, a yearning came over them. “If only I could have a prayer life like Jesus,” they said among themselves.
One day, the Bible tells us, as Jesus was praying, when He “ceased,” one of the disciples came to Him and said, “Lord, please teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1, King James Version). And so, Jesus repeated for His disciples the simple words which are even easy for a child to memorize, and we call this prayer, the Lord’s Prayer.
In this ideal prayer, given to us by Jesus Himself, we are taught to come to God with praise on our lips and thanksgiving in our hearts. We are invited to make our wants known to God. We are not to hold anything back. We are also asked to bring the burden of sin that eradicates Heaven’s joy from our lives. But we aren’t just to bring our sin; we are to claim God’s mercy and promise to forgive us as we forgive those who have hurt us. Finally, we are asked to acknowledge God’s rulership, His power and His leadership in our lives. A simple yet profound prayer of supplication, petition and adoration. I, Dorothy, the supplicant, a humble and earnest petitioner, bring my requests and needs to the Man I adore – My Father, the King of the Universe. It sounds too good to be true. But it isn’t!
This is why we will look at each phrase of this special prayer each day for the next two weeks. This isn’t some deep theological study you are in for – instead, since Jesus wanted this prayer to be easy enough for a child, we’re going to look at the Lord’s Prayer in the most practical terms by asking, “How does this prayer apply to my daily life? How do the words of this prayer and the meaning of those words affect the way I handle everyday problems that hit me in the legs, knocking me off my feet?”
One other thing. For one week, our Affirmations will be the Lord’s Prayer as it has been translated or paraphrased in a variety of versions of the Scripture.
And during the following week, the Affirmations will be the Lord’s Prayer as written by women in countries around the world. I think you’ll love the expansive meaning that women of deep spiritual faith bring to Jesus’ words – especially as we open our hearts to apply these simple truths to our daily walk with Jesus.
“Jesus Christ has brought every need, every joy, every gratitude, every hope of (women) before God. He accompanies us, and brings us into the presence of God.”
“Our Father in Heaven, We pray that Your name will always be kept Holy.
We pray that Your kingdom will come.
We pray that what You want will be done, here on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us the food we need for each day.
Forgive the sins we have done, just as we have forgiven those who did wrong to us.
Do not cause us to be tested; but save us from the evil one.”
The Everyday Bible
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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