Prayer. This gift from God is a beautiful and blissful reminder that He wants to have a conversation with you about everything in your life: the good, the bad, and the ugly. On the National Day of Prayer, set for the first Thursday of May, we pause and intentionally take time to come together as Christians, folding our hands in prayer for the world, the country, the state, our neighbors, and ourselves. If you don’t know what to pray, God gives all His people an easy prayer already: the Lord’s Prayer. Take time today to go through the introduction, first, second, and third petitions with this excerpt from Minute Messages and lift your voice to heaven with the rest of His beloved creation.
Our Father who art in heaven.
Prayer does not originate from unbelief or fear. We don’t wield it as a weapon against God or an attempt to bend the Lord’s arm to our desires. Instead, prayer is something that the Lord invites us into.
Our God is just and compassionate, not begrudging or evil. Our God is not deaf, but one who listens. He is our Father in heaven.
Therefore, we pray, not to overcome or persuade an evil god, but because God is our just, compassionate, and good Father. We pray because the Lord invites us into prayer and then shapes our prayers by His spoken Word to us. God tells us in His Word to cast “all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
As we pray, God wants us to cry out to Him with our concerns that arise from the sinful nature, the world, and the devil. The Lord desires us to pour out our anguishes upon Him, not because He is unaware of them, but so that we may be unburdened. And the Lord loves when we give Him our praise and thanks. It is a joy for us to express this to the Giver of all good gifts.
Hallowed be Thy name.
Humans like to misuse God’s name. We profane His name when we teach about God incorrectly—when we say things about God’s character and actions that simply are not true. We disgrace God’s name when we openly live in an evil way, contrary to the name that was applied upon our heads in Baptism. Because of this, not in spite of it, we pray, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name” We pray the same thing that God demands in the Second Commandment: that His name should not be misused.
The Lord’s Prayer can be considered a cry against the old, sinful nature that fails to keep the Lord’s name holy. In fact, the Lord’s Prayer teaches us to pray against the three greatest enemies of a Christian: the world, our sinful nature, and the evil foe. We pray the Lord’s Prayer because God is truly worthy and also to speak against that which is unworthy, our three greatest enemies.
So we pray, and we pray often. We pray against our sinful nature, which longs to profane the name of God. We pray against the world that would speak the name of God falsely. We pray against the devil, who entices us to elevate our own names. We pray against all who would attack our Lord’s holy name.
Thy kingdom come.
We love to build our tiny little kingdoms where we rule. We love to be in charge of our tiny little empires of influence and control. We long to uphold our thoughts, dreams, and opinions as the sole source of our spirituality. However, when we do so, we are not only attempting to evade the kingdom of God, we are also attempting to establish a cult unto ourselves. And as we already know, a kingdom founded upon ourselves will neither last nor endure—it will collapse.
And so, we pray in the Lord’s Prayer that God’s kingdom may come among us.
We pray that God’s kingdom, rule, and authority would invade our tiny little worlds to unseat the unholy trinity of me, myself, and I.
We pray that the Lord’s kingdom would permeate us through the Word and the power of the Holy Spirit. For where we find the Kingdom, we find the King. And where we find the King, we find the Kingdom.
We pray that the Lord would have His way with us so that our tiny little empires and kingdoms of darkness may be destroyed.
Even though the kingdom of God comes by itself without our prayers, we pray that it may come personally to us so that we may live by grace, rather than in self-centered unbelief.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
God’s will is not the same as the will of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature. The will of the devil is to kill, steal, and destroy faith. The will of the world is to serve the desires of the gut and the lusts of the flesh at all costs—to live for the moment because tomorrow we may die. The will of the sinful nature is curved inward, focusing on ourselves instead of our neighbors. This is why we pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
We pray because our wills and abilities are weak.
We pray that the Lord would give us the strength to do good, according to His will, and not fall prey to the will of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature.
We pray that the Lord would create in us a new heart and take away our stony heart of sin.
We pray that we would throw off the will of the world and freely walk in the good and gracious will of God.
We pray that the evil plans of the devil would be broken and hindered, and that we will not be led into darkness and confusion.
We pray that we all would be conformed to the will of God and that His valuable and compassionate will would be done among us until He comes back to take us home.
Blog excerpted from Minute Messages: Gospel-Filled Devotions for Every Occasion copyright © 2021 Matthew Richard. Published by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Read more devotions based on the petitions of The Lord's Prayer in Minute Messages: Gospel-Filled Devotions for Every Occasion.