Is it OK to call prayer cool? I think so, and I hope you do, too! I think the Lord’s Prayer is a marvelous discipline for putting aside your own agenda and getting in tune with God’s agenda. It really is the way to a much more fulfilled and happy life.
If you look at the Lord’s Prayer, it’s a “hello” statement, and it’s a concluding statement, and then seven requests are in the middle. The hello statement, “Our Father in heaven ,” addresses him in his great majesty, and with respect, and is followed by seven asks. But it’s not like – “I want money; I want a car; I want friends; I want a job; I want a vacation home; I want a wife who’s a little more agreeable and who is everlastingly young and thin; and I want kids who will always do what I say.” Those aren’t the seven things Jesus invites us to pray about.
God gives us one where we can have some of our own agenda; “Give us this day our daily bread. ” So he says, “Yes, I know you need to eat, and you need shelter, and you need the props for a basic life.” But if you notice, all the rest of the Lord’s Prayer is all about God’s agenda.
Hallowed be your name. If Jesus hadn’t taught us that, would we think to set as one of the goals of our lives making God’s reputation look sweet? Probably not. God wants to be made to look good in the world.
Your kingdom come. You might say, “Right, God, like you actually need my help making your kingdom come! Obviously you’ll do it if you want, or not, as you please. It’s entirely up to you. Your power, whatever…” But God actually wants us to pray for his agenda because we’re part of his team for actually connecting people with King Jesus. So when we say, “Lord, Your kingdom come,” we’re actually asking to be put into the game. We’re actually asking God to use us to be part of his network to bring the kingship of Jesus into more and more peoples’ lives. We’re saying, “God, your agenda, your saving agenda, now is becoming my agenda.”
Your will be done on earth ; Well, man, talk about agenda! God’s word is full of his will, so when you say “your will be done,” just pay attention. And what we’re praying for is not that God will do what he wants. He certainly will do what he wants. But what is not happening is letting him do what he wants in our lives. We keep him out. We can fence him out, barricade him out, lock him out, push him out. But when we say, “Your will be done,” it means, “Let your will be done in me.” May I become part of your game plan? Might I be drawn into your agenda?
Then, after the daily bread ask, we pray Forgive us our debts. This is indeed the big “get-out-of-hell-free” card that we have through Christ. But the next words are: As we forgive our debtors . Yikes. That statement is not so much fun. We’re saying, “Lord, please help me now turn around and forgive the people who have hurt or wounded me.”
Lead us not into temptation. This is like asking, “Please, Lord, don’t let me get pushed beyond whatever is my ability to bear. Don’t let me be overwhelmed.” The last ask reminds us that God does set limits on what we have to undergo: But deliver us from the evil one.” We ask God to send his holy angels to keep Satan from destroying our body and soul. We end in utter gratitude and trust by acknowledging that God has the power, authority, and glory to do all these things, and that he has them forever and forever. We’re safe. He rules.
Is this not cool? Don’t you feel better already?
Pastor Mark Jeske has been bringing the Word of God to viewers of Time of Grace since the program began airing in late 2001. A Milwaukee native, Pastor Jeske has served as the senior pastor at St. Marcus Lutheran Church on Milwaukee’s near north side since 1980. In addition, he is the author of six books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics. You can sign up to receive his daily Grace Moment devotions via e-mail by clicking here.