Yesterday was the National Day of Prayer. I did not go to any special services for it; however, I did take time to reflect on prayer as one of the ways I practice self-care.
Most days, reading and meditation are a part of my morning routine. But before I crack open the daily readers, before I turn on the light, before I even get out of bed, I say good morning and thank you to God, even on the mornings I’m not ready to be awake. Especially those mornings.
One of my favorite prayers is an oldie but goodie – the Lord’s Prayer. The danger with this prayer is that it’s so familiar, I can easily forget what the words mean.
Most of the time, we pray this as a prayer of petition. We say, “Thy kingdom come,” when the kingdom is all around us, closer than the air is to our skin. We ask that God’s will be done (as if His Will didn’t already trump the worst self-will that we could throw out into the world when Jesus died and rose from the dead).
We ask God to give us “daily bread” (without acknowledging that if we are alive today to pray to Him, He has given us everything we need for today).
We ask God to forgive us, perhaps without realizing that the forgiveness we request is not unconditional, but directly proportional to the forgiveness we give to our worst, most unrepentant enemies.
We ask our heavenly Father not to lead us into situations that tempt us, as if it were even possible for God to lead us away from His presence and into His absence (which is the very definition of “sin”).
These petitions make no sense to me. The only real request in the Lord’s Prayer is, “Deliver us from evil.”
I don’t think the Lord’s Prayer was ever intended to be a petition. I pray it as a bold declaration of my faith:
God, you are my father, my creator. Your name – I AM – is holy, sacred and powerful.
Your kingdom is here inside me and all around me.
Your will is more powerful than any earthly power, reaches into every corner of this world and uses every good and bad choice we make for your ultimate glory. Even if I don’t like it, my present circumstances and even the evil I face are allowed by that Will, if only to draw me and others closer to you.
I trust that you will give me everything I need to be useful to you for this day only. Tomorrow will take care of itself.
I believe the only thing standing in the way of Your forgiveness is my ability to receive it, and the only thing blocking me from receiving Your forgiveness is my anger and resentment of others.
I know that if I am separated from You, it is because I was the one who moved away. Please protect me from and relieve me of anything that would come between us.
For the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory are yours, now and forever.