On the Lord’s Prayer by Pastor Bennett
Prayer is tough. If you’re like me, you may often feel like you’re kind of bad at it. Perhaps you’re terrified of praying in public because you’re afraid of sounding dumb or not using the right words. You may have a hard time even praying in private because your mind wanders or you don’t feel sincere. Maybe you feel like every time you pray, your prayers just hit the ceiling. How can you really know that God listens—and that he cares?
If we’re having a hard time with prayer, we’re also likely experiencing difficulty with really understanding the Christian worldview.
For people who struggle both with prayer, and with understanding and living the Christian faith, Jesus gave us The Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6.5-15; Luke 11.1-13).
A few years ago William Edgar wrote a book called A Transforming Vision: The Lord’s Prayer as a Lens for Life. His main argument is that the Lord’s Prayer is not just a prayer; it also serves as a concise explanation of the Christian worldview.
Everyone has a worldview, whether they know it or not. James Anderson writes in What’s Your Worldview?, “Worldviews are like belly-buttons. Everyone has one, but we don’t talk about them very often.”
And a distinctly Christian worldview is informed by God and his revealed truth in Scripture. It gives us a new set of eyes to see the world and it governs how we see and understand reality and how we live and make decisions.
So the Lord’s Prayer is both a model for prayer and a summary of the Christian worldview.
Edgar writes, “If our prayer life is less than it should be” [which I bet it is for most of us], “then likely it has little to do with discipline or method. Those are helpful, but they are beside the main problem. What is the main problem? Simply, our view of God is less than it should be. The greater our God, the more significant will be our prayer life. Put differently, it’s all about our worldview.”
The Christian call to prayer is very unique. It’s not just an activity you do as part of your religion; it’s much deeper than that. Edgar explains: “We don’t just pray out of duty. Instead, we should cultivate a love for conversing with the living God, the Lord who is ready to hear, and we should long for those times when we can speak our deepest thoughts to him. We ought to relish time for prayer, publically and privately, and feel frustrated when they are not abundant. Prayer is a lifestyle issue.”
In other words, what you think about prayer and how you “do” prayer will be informed by how you see the world and how you see God.
As we understand the Christian worldview more fully and develop a deeper prayer life, we’ll see that our prayers are not effective because of anything in their formulation, or even because of the thoughts in our hearts. Rather, an effective prayer life comes because we have a merciful God—a God who gives us a first chance, a second chance, a third, fourth and on to the next time we cry out to him.
In other words, prayer mirrors the gospel. Your ability to pray and be heard by God, just like your ability to be forgiven and receive new life, is not based on anything about who you are or what you do; it’s all based entirely on who Jesus is and what Jesus has done. Your salvation doesn’t depend on your work at all; it depends entirely on the finished work of Christ. And therefore, the effectiveness and power of your prayers don’t depend on your work at all either; they depend on the finished work of Christ—the one who intercedes for us to the Father.
So pray! And use our Lord’s prayer as a model. And the next time you do that, try to see howit summarizes the Christian worldview and offers tremendous perspective for our daily lives and experiences.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory
Forever and ever, Amen.