One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’” (Luke 11:1–4, NIV84)
Prayer was a significant part of Jesus’ life — so much so that the disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray. The prayer that Jesus taught them is called by most the Lord’s Prayer (because our Lord taught it to the disciples). As we look at the petitions to the Lord’s Prayer, some striking things come out. First, in prayer we should focus on God, not us. The first three petitions deal with our relationship with God. Jesus lovingly invites us to call God our “Father” and encourages us to give Him honor and glory. He tells us that our prayers should then focus on God’s kingdom coming and His will being done in our lives/world today. Second, in the next two petitions we focus on God’s daily and faithful provision for our lives, and then, the need to have sins forgiven (by God and by us). In the last two petitions we focus on our enemy. We seek to be led far from His tempting forces and to be delivered from his grasp when contact with the enemy is made.
It is not just a prayer. I believe it is a formula for prayer. People say they don’t like the Lord’s Prayer because it becomes rote. I contend, if prayed as a form of prayer, it becomes the model of what content should be in every prayer. I sometimes pray the Lord’s Prayer by petition. I focus on one petition a day and let my mind and heart pray whatever comes to mind when meditating on that petition. I encourage you to spend more time on this prayer — if for no other reason than that Jesus Himself taught us to pray this way. Pray it as a prayer in and of itself. At other times stop at every petition and let your spirit go where it takes you as you pray. I know from experience that such a practice will be of great benefit.