The method of prayer and location to pray come in numerous styles and even varied positions, but the focus never changes, it is always about us seeking the heart of God. I have enjoyed praying alone walking along wooded paths and thanking Him for the marvel, variety, and beauty of His creation.
Other prayer times have been while isolated in a cabin or small cottage located in some remote area during the cold of winter, or in the comfort of our home by the warm wood stove. There have been times of deep intercession when I have asked for mercy and guidance during a crisis and other times when I’ve asked to grow more in His love and knowledge. Still other times when I have worshiped him for who He is and what He has done for me, prayers of gratefulness for His Word.
Loud prayer, soft prayer, silent prayer, prayer in stillness and waiting, prayer in solitude, prayer in the presence of thousands of others, written prayer, prayers in songs – all are valid. Prayer is multifaceted and worthy of exploring but of all that can be said about prayer perhaps the most important statement is to simply say, just do it!
The Lord’s Prayer is a simple map spoken from the mouth of our Savior and intended for all His disciples. Some authors have suggested Jesus gave it as a beginning point for His disciples, knowing that as they matured spiritually, so would their prayer lives so that the need for an outline would one day no longer be a necessity. Others use it as a formality of ceremony and do so sincerely. While I agree it stands alone as a prayer of great strength, beauty, and covers the whole of prayer topically with no additional words needed, I think potentially it is like every other creation of God in that while it may appear simple and certainly accessible for easy entry by anyone seeking to converse with God, it also contains much more depth and breadth. In other words, there is more than meets the eye.
There is an open field in front of my house and a wooded hillside behind it. I have enjoyed walks through those woods and even though it’s only about 15 acres and not a national forest, I am always discovering something new in them. From the field is the view of multiple trees, but enter the woods and you quickly discover a large variety of things. There are hardwood and cedar trees, vines, rocks, boulders, moss, ferns, and other foliage, not to mention the many outdoor aromas.
If you stand motionless long enough and look upward, movement will be detected above as squirrels jump from limb to limb through the trees. Birds of all different types are represented such as Downey woodpeckers, robins, cardinals, Indigo bunting, doves, owls, and a dozen others. On the ground if you are patient and still, you might catch a glimpse of a tiny field mouse or white-tailed deer standing motionless hoping to avoid exposure. Almost totally concealed among some larger stones in the ravine, in the former home of a gray fox, there are sometimes opossum, raccoons, and even skunks, or at least the lingering evidence of their presence.
That’s just the beginning. Roll over enough rocks and fallen rotting logs and you’ll eventually observe various assortments of snakes, frogs, lizards, and skinks. If you really are on a zoological expedition, there are more insect varieties than you could easily count.
From a distance you see and appreciate the beauty of the wooded hillside, but once you enter the woods you begin to encounter countless details of life and beauty waiting to be explored, which can’t be seen from a quick glance or at a distance.
God, His creation, and His Word are the same; this is who He is and how He thinks and operates. He is on the one hand the artisan of simplicity, yet His character coexists with inexhaustible complexity, depth, variety, and mystery. He is wonderful! He is Creator of all that exists. He holds it all together, and one word from Him will signal the end of the world as we know it. At the same time He also desires intimate and personal relationship with humankind and provides a way for it to happen; mind blowing isn’t it? Why would anyone not want to follow him?
The Creator and Maintainer of the world desires relationship with us and offers to lead us to and through the optimum life possible for each of us. All that is required is the surrendering of our agenda for His and then trusting in His flawless and effective directions.
Another word for directions is archetype – the word archetype is defined as the original pattern or model from which all things of the same kind are copied or on which they are based. The Lord’s Prayer is our archetype, the original pattern, directions, or model for prayer and a daily lived life as well. It leads us regardless of the intensity level of the situation and provides for us the primary points required for a healthy growing relationship with God, the life well lived.
Like the myriad of things in the woods behind my home, this prayer of Jesus has multiple layers to be explored and experienced. Sinclair Ferguson said, “The Lord’s Prayer serves two purposes. First, it provides a model prayer, an easily memorized outline that serves as a guide in how we are to approach God as Father and how we are to speak to Him. Second, it serves as an outline of the whole Christian life by providing certain ‘fixed points’ of concern for the family of God. It underlines life’s priorities and helps us to get them into focus.”[i]
Prior to beginning what we call the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus said this, “When you pray…” These are key words for all who would consider themselves Christ followers. He did not say, “If” you pray, but when. No need for theological speculation or debate, He obviously intended for every disciple to maintain a life of prayer.
Prepare to be encouraged, challenged, have your boundaries of understanding expanded, and grow in your appreciation of this divinely crafted masterpiece. The Lord’s Prayer provides entrance into a realm most only dream of because to actually attain it requires action on our part. Unfortunately many have succumbed to idle indifference, allowing the greatest possible adventure in the human experience to escape them, one of divine design; the life well lived.
Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
[i] Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount (Carlisle: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1978), p. 120.
[ii] Matt 6:9-13 HCSB