Five ways to use the Lord’s Prayer to improve your prayer life
Learn how to pray like Jesus prayed and rediscover the joy of prayer.
Let’s start with a secret: The best way to understand a Christian discipline is to imagine explaining it to a five-year old. You do not need to know much more than this. You need only to implement what you know. You have only to put it into practice.
Prayer is one of the greatest examples. It’s a privilege most Christians ignore or minimize. Prayer is always available. You can wear what you want, sit, stand or lay down. You can dance in circles or sing in the shower. Every moment of your day, prayer is incredibly accessible and yet even the most mature believers will wonder.
I think of prayer like talking to your best friend or parent. Prayer includes speaking and listening. Prayer means paying attention to who you’re talking to. Prayer means talking not only about ourselves and what we want, but showing concern for the affairs and affections of God.
How do we do this? How do we ignore our cravings and distractions? How do we tame our outside thoughts in the midst of a discussion with the Creator of the universe?! It isn’t easy. But using the Lord's Prayer as our foundation can be really helpful.
Five ways to use the Lord's Prayer
In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus teaches his disciples (and us) a simple prayer that we can use to focus our thoughts and our hearts:
(9) This, then, is how you should pray:
"Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
(10) your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
(11) Give us today our daily bread.
(12) And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
(13) And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one."
VERSE BY VERSE
There are five verses in the Matthew account of the Lord’s prayer. Choose one school week to pray one verse each day. It may seem too simple at first, but repeat the verse over and over as you consider the importance of each word. What word stands out? Is it Father? Forgiven? Daily? Ask God to explain it to you. Ask God to bring creativity and give you His wisdom for His glory.
Read Matthew 6: 9-13 out loud once or twice each day. When you get up and go to bed, or just before two meal times. After reading it aloud, keep a list of questions that come to mind. At the end of the week, ask other Christians or talk to your pastor about this prayer of Jesus Christ. Invite others to help you answer your questions.
Read Matthew 6: 9-13 every day for a week. Each day, choose one word that jumps out (e.g. 'debtors'). Look up its definition in a concordance or online. What does the standard dictionary say about it? What do online Bible commentaries say about it? As the week progresses, you’ll discover a greater depth of meaning behind the words you pray. Perhaps you’ll see why Jesus prayed them.
Invite a friend, sibling, or parent to memorize the Lord’s prayer with you. Think hard about each verse as you do. Consider a different version than than the one you know best. If you’ve never memorized the Lord’s prayer before, take just one verse every few days. Carry it in your pocket and then, each time you choose a new verse to memorize, recap aloud all the ones you’ve learned.
Consider writing the Lord’s Prayer in your own words. Invite a friend or family to do the same and compare notes. Tell God what you would say to Him as your Father, Kingdom-keeper, Provider, and Deliverer.
And remember, now that you’ve learned about the Lord’s Prayer, and prayed as Jesus taught for a week or two, make this a discipline you do not forget. Implement it into your schedule like you regularly talk to your friends.