Do you ever wonder if your praying has become repetitive, meaningless, and powerless? I’ve wondered that about my praying at times. I’m re-energized now, though. I just learned a new way to pray.
Mike Breen in Building a Discipleship Culture encourages disciplers to teach disciples to use the Lord’s prayer as a model. After all, when Jesus was asked to teach the disciple how to pray, He taught the Lord’s prayer. It’s found, of course, in Luke 11:1-4 and in Matthew 6:9-13.
How do we make sure that praying according to the Lord’s prayer does not become “meaningless repetition”? We can pray it phrase by phrase and in our own words – a kind of personalized, amplified version of the Lord’s prayer. I’ve known this and practiced this for many years.
But in his book, Breen taught me something new. “Another way to better understand the Lord’s Prayer is to see it as a circular prayer; each phrase is fully developed by all of the others. Take one phrase, place a colon after it, and then continue with the other phrases. Ask, how is this part of the prayer fully articulated in the rest of the prayer.”
How might this work? It’s not really all that complicated. Consider the six petitions in the Lord’s prayer.
1) Praise: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.
2) Priority: Your kingdom come,
3) Plan: Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
4) Provision: Give us this day our daily bread…
5) Pardon: And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors…
6) Protection: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Stay focused on one petition each day. Then pray through the other petitions in light of the one.
In the paragraph that follows, I’ll show you how to keep petition #1 as the prayer focus while praying through the rest of the petitions. and explain how to
Monday’s theme: #1 – Praise // Pray that God’s fame as Holy God will grow. Pray # 2 for areas in your life and ministry that His kingdom will come more and more so that His holiness will be seen. Pray #3 for people you know that His will be done more and more so that His holiness will be seen in the lives of His holy people. Pray #4 for your family, career, and ministry that He will give you your daily bread in a way that He will be seen and praised as holy. Pray #5 for you and the pople you know that you would forgive and be forgiven so that He will be known as the holy One who makes His people wholly free from bitterness. Pray #6 for you, your family, and ministry that you would vercome temptation and be delivered from the evil one so that God will be seen as the holy One who gives His people a holy victory.
OK. Now that you get the idea, below is an outline you can follow for the rest of the week. Don’t worry. It’s not as complicated as it might look.
Tuesday’s theme: #2 – Priority // Pray that more and more people and cultures would submit to God as King – that His rule and ways would prevail. Then, pray # 3 in light of # 2. Pray # 4 in light of # 2. Pray # 5 in light of # 2. Pray # 6 in light of # 2. Pray # 1 in light of # 2.
Wednesday’s theme: #3 – Plan // Pray that Gods will will be done in your life, in your family, in your ministry, in your city/nation/world. Then, pray # 4 in light of # 3. Pray #5 in light of # 3. Pray #6 in light of # 3. Pray # 1 in light of # 3. Pray # 2 in light of # 3.
Thursday’s theme: #4 – Provision // Pray that God would meet your needs, the needs of your family, and the needs of your ministry. Then, pray # 5 in light of # 4. Pray #6 in light of # 4. Pray #1 in light of # 4. Pray # 2 in light of # 4. Pray # 3 in light of # 4.
Friday’s theme: #5 – Pardon // Pray that as you and others experience more and more of God’s forgiveness that you and others will be free from bitterness and resentment. Then, pray # 6 in light of # 5. Pray #1 in light of # 5. Pray #2 in light of # 5. Pray # 3 in light of # 5. Pray # 4 in light of # 5.
Saturday’s theme: #6 – Protection // Pray that you, your family, and those in your ministry will be able to overcome temptation and be delivered from the schemes of the evil one. Then pray # 1 in light of # 6. Pray #2 in light of # 6. Pray #3 in light of # 6. Pray # 4 in light of # 6. Pray # 5 in light of # 6.
Why not try this method of prayer for a week or so?
Note: On Sunday, you might want to pray through the Lord’s Prayer in a more straightforward kind of way. Or you might want to model your prayers after some other biblical prayers like Paul’s prayers in the epistles (see Philippians 1:9-11).
Question: Have you been able to pray through the Lord’s Prayer without it becoming vain repetition? How?