There are many different schemes people find helpful for organising their daily prayer times: perhaps you’ve heard of STOP: Sorry, Thankyou, Others, Please; or maybe you prefer ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. But at the end of the day, what could be a better way to pray than to use the prayer that Jesus himself taught us – the Lord’s prayer? As Luke 11:2-4 has it:
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
This is a great outline for our prayer time, and it really helps line up our priorities with God’s priorities: notice how out of six lines, the full first half are focussed entirely on God, before it turns to us and our needs.
- Father – perhaps the most exciting line of the whole prayer, it begins with a reminder of who we’re praying to, and how we are to relate to him. He’s not some distant God begrudgingly listening to our prayers; we don’t have to try and twist his arm to make him grant our petitions. He’s our loving heavenly Father who delights to hear from his children – what a privilege it is to pray to him!
- Hallowed be your name – the whole purpose of our prayers and our lives is to bring glory to God’s name, to see him honoured and recognised for who he is. It’s a great rebuke to us when we’re caught up in our own little worlds with our own concerns – it’s not really about us at all. What a fantastic reminder to lift our eyes to the bigger reason behind it all.
- Your kingdom come – our greatest desire should be to see God’s rule established as people come to acknowledge him as their king and increasingly give their lives over to him. As we pray for his kingdom to come, we’re asking that he is honoured both in our own lives and in the lives of those around us.
- Give us each day our daily bread – as we ask God to provide our daily bread, we’re reminded that we depend on him for all our needs. It’s easy to take it for granted that there’ll be food on our table each day, but the truth is that without God sustaining us and protecting us day by day and even hour by hour, we’d have nothing. It’s only right that we should acknowledge this before God.
- Forgive us our sins – it’s vitally important in the battle against sin that we make a point of confessing our failings before God on a regular basis. Confession helps us to realign our radar – training our hearts to hate our sin instead of harbouring it and allowing it to take root. Jesus also encourages us to think about ways in which we need to forgive others, expressing our thankfulness for the way God has forgiven us.
- Lead us not into temptation – if we’re to have any hope in the battle against sin, we need God’s help. If God wasn’t working behind the scenes to keep us out of the way of temptation, who knows how much worse off we would be? It shames me to think of many examples of times when I’ve sinfully set my heart to do something I know I shouldn’t, only to be prevented from carrying out the act by God’s providential arrangement of circumstances. I imagine that there are many more examples of times when I’ve not even been aware of God working to lead me out of temptation’s way.
If you’re a user of my PrayerMate prayer app for the iPhone or iPod touch, you could easily set it up to help you shape your prayers around the Lord’s prayer each day. Here’s one way you might do it:
- Create a new “Lord’s Prayer” category – under the settings menu, hit “Add Category” and name it “The Lord’s Prayer”
- Show six items per session – under the settings page for your new category, set the “Items per session” slider to six, so that each day you will see each of the main elements of the prayer.
- Enter each line as a separate subject – you can now enter each line of the prayer as a separate subject under your new “Lord’s Prayer” category. So you would have one subject titled “Father”, perhaps with a few details to remind you what it’s all about, such as “Praise God that he allows us to call him Father. Thank him for the privilege of being his child.”; you would then have another subject titled “Hallowed be your name”, with the details outlining some of the implications of this; then another subject titled “Your kingdom come”, and so on.
- Make sure this categories will show up each day – if you want to prayer through all six lines of the prayer, you’ll need to make sure that either a) you’ve turned the global item limit OFF (under the ‘Advanced Settings’ page) so that every category always appears each day, or b) you’ve “pinned” your new “Lord’s Prayer” category, telling PrayerMate that you want it to prioritise items from this category, even if there are items you prayed for less recently in other categories.
You could just as easily set up PrayerMate to use the STOP or ACTS prayer schemes as well.
If you give this a try, do use the ‘feedback’ button within PrayerMate to let me know how you get on!