Pray then like this: Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed by thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.
– Matthew 6:9-13
During times of extreme chaos and difficulty, the usual ‘comings and goings’ of life will obviously be altered. Our normal daily habits are forced to change. However, some habits change for the better. One such change involves prayer. In a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, over 86% of the people polled say they are now praying on a daily basis. This is what makes Matthew 6:9-13 so instructive and timely. This passage, referred to as The Lord’s Prayer or The Model Prayer, is a wonderful tool that teaches us how we should pray. Allow me to offer three observations:
1. Pray with Shameless Audacity
Notice how this prayer begins: Our Father. The only way we can understand why we should pray shamelessly and boldly is because the one we pray to is our good, good father. Only a child who is secure in his father’s love could be so bold as to come shamelessly. Any parent with young children instinctively knows this to be true. The reason your child isn’t afraid to come to you is because they have an expectation that mom or dad is going to take care of things. When your child comes to you and says, “Mom, mom, mom…” or “Dad, dad, dad…” over and over again, you are going to pay attention to them. A child is relentless and aggressive in petitioning the parent because there is a real relationship there. The child, secure in mom and dad’s love, goes to her parent and makes her request. Only those who see God as their father in the same way can go to Him so aggressively. Those who see God as their employer, or their boss will not go with shameless audacity.
2. Pray with Expectation
In this prayer we are told to pray: thy kingdom come, thy will be done. How does one pray with expectation, if we don’t know the outcome? I once heard a minister explain it this way: ‘When we pray, we have the assurance of knowing that God will either give us what we are asking for OR He will give us what we would have asked for if we knew everything that he already knows’ therefore pray with expectation. That I believe is correct! That I believe is the crux of what it means to pray: thy will be done.
3. Pray with Confidence
Because Christ is sitting at God the Father’s right hand (on earth as it is in Heaven), we can have the confidence that through prayer, lives can be changed, oppression can cease, daily bread is given, and forgiveness is ever present. Anything and everything is now possible. It’s all on the table. Why? Because of the Cross. When Jesus went to the Cross, obeying his Father’s will (Thy will be done), He lost temporary intimacy so that we can now have ultimate intimacy. On the Cross He cried out to God, and God was silent, so that when we now pray, God will never turn a deaf ear. Because of Christ, we can pray with confidence!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, as I pray, may I do so with a posture that does not seek to earn your pleasure, but to feel your pleasure. May I pray with great expectation and a confidence that comes from knowing you went to the Cross for me. If you love me so much that you were willing to do that, what won’t you now do? Thank you for hearing my prayers in the same care and concern as a parent hears from a young child. Amen.
Dr. Dave Lescalleet serves as the Director Chaplaincy for PruittHealth.