In the Gospels, we have what is traditionally called the Lord’s Prayer. Not to be nitpicky (or maybe I am), but it is not really the Lord’s Prayer—it’s the Disciples’ Prayer.
The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, and he gave them this prayer as a template—not to pray in a rote and thoughtless manner as is the case with some, but as a guideline for prayer. He said to pray in this manner, not to pray those exact words.
The fact is that Jesus himself never prayed this prayer. We know that is because in the prayer, we are taught to ask for forgiveness—something Jesus never had to ask for since, as the perfect Son of God, he never sinned.
The real Lord’s prayer is found elsewhere in the Gospels. In Mark 14:36, we see what Jesus himself prayed:
“Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me, yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Now, Jesus prayed a number of times in the Gospels, but, for me, this is one of his most instructive prayers as it changes how I can pray.
I see four things in this prayer: (1) intimacy with the Lord, (2) faith in the Lord, (3) requests of the Lord, and (4) submission to the Lord.
1. Intimacy with the Lord
"Abba, Father . . .”
I have learned in my walk with Jesus that I need to grow in having my identity, worth, value, and security firmly in him and only in him. As the old hymn says, “All other ground is sinking sand.” I also want to deepen my intimacy with him. I need both identity and intimacy. Identity has to do with salvation and intimacy with sanctification.
Oh, the joy and thrill of knowing that I have a heavenly Father, with whom I can have such an awesome relationship, and whom I can call Daddy, literally “Abba”! He loves me, cares about me, cherishes me, and is there for me, one of his kids.
2. Faith in the Lord
“. . . all things are possible for you.”
I also want to grow and believe that nothing is impossible for God to do. Nothing is impossible for him to do for me, in me, or through me. I want to believe big, because I serve a big God. I don’t want to go to God and lament how big my problems are, but rather go to my problems and tell them how big my God is.
3. Requests of the Lord
“Remove this cup from me . . .”
When I pray and request, here are a few questions I want to consider:
- Do requests to remove things make up most of my prayers?
- Am I requesting out of intimacy or immediacy?
- Am I praying out of faith or fear?
- Am I requesting only/mostly for myself or also for others?
My Father/Daddy wants me to ask for things, because he is a giver. The best thing he ever gave was his Son Jesus to die for me, to be raised for me. I love Romans 8:32 in this regard: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
4. Submission to the Lord
“. . . yet not what I will, but what you will.”
The hardest thing for me to do is to be OK with God’s will and not to demand my own. I have several issues I am currently dealing with (health, relationships, and finances), and I want to be bold in trusting and requesting, but at the same time I want his will above all else. I know it sounds paradoxical, but it’s true. It’s part of believing God is sovereign—and a good sovereign at that. It’s believing he always has what might not be the easiest for me, but will always be the best for me as he achieves his plans and purposes in/through me.
Big God, big prayers
Out of your intimacy with him, you deepen in your understanding of how big he is. As you grow in understanding how big he is and that nothing is impossible for him to do, you pray for big things that would honor him. As you pray for those big things, your deepest desire of all is for his will to be done.
So there you have the real Lord’s Prayer to use as a template and guide as you pray. It has been helpful for me, and I trust will be for you as well.