Posted by: mikenicholsblog | April 3, 2011

our Father which art …

You could recite this prayer from memory. It may have even been a part of your worship service yesterday. Words in this prayer convey powerful truths that are sadly often lost in corporate recitation. Since childhood we have called it the Lord’s Prayer, although many feel it could be more accurately described as the Disciples’ Prayer. In this prayer we are given a great model of how to communicate with the Father. Studying it will help us create a pattern for praise, adoration and seeking our Lord with petitions. However, when the words become just a tradition, and there is no thought or emphasis given to the real meaning of this prayer, our repetition is empty. We all struggle with understanding the depth of prayer, and relating to God with words that are not empty.

I believe we all understand the value of praying, but I don’t know many individuals who are pleased with how regularly they communicate with the Father. None of us can comprehend the depth of what our prayer time means to God, but we know that we are commanded to pray. You may even sometimes feel like since He knows everything anyway, “what’s the big deal?” A quote from John MacArthur’s New Testament Commentary of Matthew 1-7 gives us a balanced view:

“The Bible is unequivocal about God’s absolute sovereignty. But it is equally unequivocal in declaring that within His sovereignty God calls on His people to beseech Him in prayer-to implore His help in guidance, provision, protection, mercy, forgiveness, and countless other needs.”

God is sovereign, but He wants us to pray. In the verses immediately preceding the Lord’s Prayer there is emphasis given to inappropriate praying. You have read the verses, I am sure. God knows that each of us can be guilty of self-indulgent, prideful … empty prayers. Couched within these verses are a couple of principles that are important for every serious Christ follower.

Matthew 6:6, 8(a) (MSG)
Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense His grace.

This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need.

God has designed that we can relate to Him through prayer. I believe He wants us to have a place of prayer that is quiet and secluded (for me it’s our basement). That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t pray in public, or with our families. We all would agree, however, that real intimacy with the Father is better served in private. It is in those private times that I really sense the focus of prayer shift from me to God.

The other concept that struck me from verse eight, is that the Father knows our needs better than we do. Spending time with God who is sovereign, available, all-knowing and full of grace is anything but empty.

You know where your prayer life is right now. Is your time with Him fleeting, and often a bit empty? Determine to find your quiet place and spend time there. Make sure that the emphasis is transferred from you to Him, and then be prepared to sense His grace. Tell Him everything.  You know in your head that He already knows, but communicate it with your heart.  He desires this time, and this unique space with each of us.  Give Him time privately with an open heart, and the next time your repeat the Lord’s Prayer…. just maybe the words will be full!

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