One of the biggest challenges in our prayer lives is persistence. As Jesus noted of the disciples, we grow weary, our minds wander, and our flesh is weak. Even once we have found a place and time to pray, we need direction for the use of such times. Jesus gives us the template for prayer in response to His disciples' request on how to pray.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name. Jesus opens by acknowledging and recognizing God. God in the heavens, you are holy. As we open in prayer, we do so by recalling who we are approaching. A God who is not far off and removed, but in the heavens that inhabit our world. Near as our next breath, as close as our next heart beat. God is near to us. God is also holy and deserving of our homage, worship, and praise. When we open in prayer this way it frames our time with God.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Next, Jesus reminds us to pray for God's will in the here and now. We exercise our free will to ask for His will to be done. We choose to seek His plans and purposes for our lives and those around us above all else. We surrender ourselves to God, as we seek Him for our needs and those of others. We offer ourselves and requests before Him that He may continue in His perfect plans and purposes. From a humble heart we ask that His will reigns freely in the situations we bring before Him.
Give us this day our daily bread. Jesus instructs us to seek God for our needs, having hearts prepared to do so. We are reminded that God sustains, provides, and meets our every need. As we ask for His will to be done, we can be assured that our needs will be met as are best for us. Therefore, as we bring our requests before the Lord, we entrust them into His wisdom and perfect love for us.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Jesus calls us to keep short accounts. With clean hearts we come before the Lord in prayer, seeking His will for our needs. We continually need to seek God's forgiveness for our action or inaction, and to extend forgiveness to others. They go hand in hand. Just as it is hard to come before God in prayer when our hearts are not right before Him, it is equally hard to fully seek His will if we harbor unforgiveness toward others.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. As we begin Lent, we do so with the passages on Jesus' temptation in the wilderness. We see that He pressed into His relationship with God to make it through such a time of trial. Jesus points to that model for us as well. God does not tempt, but trails and temptations will come. We can seek God's deliverance and guidance in such seasons, trusting in His faithfulness to see us through. We need only to seek Him, draw near to Him, and submit to His leadings and promptings in such times.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen. Jesus directs us to conclude as we began. Having sought the Lord, submitted to Him, cleansed our hearts, and pressed into Him, we conclude with a doxology, or praise to God. We end praising Him and giving the glory and worship He alone is due.
As we persevere in prayer, Jesus' model helps govern our times with God. His instruction makes the most of such times. The condition of our heart is key, as Jesus weaves throughout the prayer He teaches us to pray. May our hearts be drawn to the Lord in this season of Lent, as in every season, to seek His perfect will for our lives and those of others.