"Lord, teach us to pray," Luke 11:1
Over the past several months, I've been considering the Lord's prayer like never before. Those of us who grew up in Church have had those words memorized since childhood and the prayer has become so familiar to us that when recited in service, we tend to mouth it without really considering its meaning.
At least that's how it was for me, until recently when I become awakened to a whole new perspective on the prayer. And as a result I became convicted of how inappropriately I pray.
The disciples asked Christ to teach them how to pray. He responded by giving them what we call today "The Lord's Prayer" or the "Our Father."
Just an overview of the prayer's structure is eyeopening.
Consider the parts:
1. Recognizing who God is and His holiness
2. Longing for and desiring the accomplishment of God's purposes -- Recognizing the primary importance of God's purposes
3. Requests for my needs
4. Recognizing my need for forgiveness and my need to be transformed so that I can forgive others
5. Acknowledging my weakness, frailty and proclivity to return to sin and requesting deliverance.
6. Proclaiming God's sovereignty and eternal nature.
From this general breakdown, I noticed
50 percent of the prayer focuses on God, who He is and His purposes
One-third of the prayer is dedicated to acknowledging my frailty and requesting that God continue His transformation of me.
And only one-sixth (16.67 percent) is allotted to my personal request for my needs. Note: needs not frivolous desires.
If I took an honest look at my own standard prayers. The statistics would not stack up the same. It would look something like this:
Maybe 10-15 percent acknowledging, celebrating who God is.
40 percent telling God how to handle my family and friends problems (Give them this! Make this happen!)
40 percent telling God how to handle my problems (Give me that! Make that happen!)
And about 5-10 percent on seeking the furtherance of God's purposes.
Those are some sad statistics -- especially for someone who is supposed to be a missionary, right?
So maybe its time for me to give my prayer life an overhall, starting by taking a hard look at how Christ himself taught us to pray. I intend to do this over a series of blog entries beginning with this one. And maybe through this process the old liturgy of "Our Father" will breath new life into a prayer life that has fallen all too flat.