Praying the Lord's Prayer

When Jesus gave us “the Lord’s Prayer,” he was teaching us how to pray. “Pray like this,” Jesus said (Luke 11:2). He didn’t necessarily mean you must pray these exact words, but he was laying out a model to guide our prayers. There is no greater model.

Mike Breen writes, “[The Lord’s prayer] is shallow enough for a baby to bathe in, and deep enough for elephants to swim through.” It is so simple you can teach it to your children, yet it is deep enough that you can spend a lifetime plumbing its depths, learning to pray it in your every day life.

There are many different ways you can use the Lord’s Prayer to direct your prayers.

First, you could use the Lord’s Prayer as a guide for your own prayers, pausing after each phrase and letting the words prompt your own praying. Here is a helpful way to think about each phrase of the prayer:

The Father’s Character: Hallowed be Your Name…

What are the characteristics of God our Father? What specifically are we thankful for today or in this situation because of that? We focus on the fact that God is holy and his name is hallowed because he’s the King of the universe. What are the character qualities of this king? Which are standing out to us today? Which do we need to know today or in a specific situation? We pause, reflect, listen, pray, and engage with him. 

The Father’s Kingdom: Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done…

If God’s kingdom were fully present right now today or in this situation and all the affects of sin and evil were banished, what would be different? How can we pray specifically today or in this situation for God’s kingdom to come in that way? We pray boldly, remembering that Jesus has given us his full authority and power to do so. 

The Father’s Provision: Give us today our daily bread…

Daily bread is not just the nourishing food for our bodies, but all the things we need as a human to sustain us physically, emotionally and spiritually. What daily bread do I need today or in this situation I’m specifically praying about? What about those around me? What do they need? 

The Father’s Forgiveness: Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors….

Through the Gospel, we’ve been forgiven once and for all, but we still ask forgiveness so that we may experience his healing from sin’s bruising effects...and so that out of that place of forgiveness, we can forgive others. In what ways do I need to be forgiven? If I’m praying for something specific, as I’m praying for it, is the Holy Spirit revealing an area of sin for me to address? Who do I need to forgive today? Who do I need to pray special blessings for, rather than ignoring the situation or wishing harm on them? We truly need the Spirit’s help in this. 

The Father’s Guidance: Lead us not into temptation…

The book of James says that if we ask God for wisdom, it will be given to us. Where do I need the wisdom from heaven today? What wisdom do I need for this specific situation? Are there things I need to be cautious of today, either something I know is on the schedule or something brewing in my heart? Lead me even now away from temptation. We stop, pray, listen, and let the Holy Spirit minister and speak to us. 

The Father’s Deliverance: Deliver us from evil….

Is the Holy Spirit revealing to me places that the enemy is at work? Pray against them, asking the God of Angel Armies to fight and win the day. Intercede for that situation and those people. Are there strongholds I need to be aware of? What are they? Are there places where the enemy is clutching at my life and I need deliverance? Pray for God’s victory on the cross (victory over sin, death, hell and the grave) to be present. 

Another way to use the Lord’s Prayer in your own prayer life is take one phrase from the Prayer and go deep with that one phrase. Spend a whole prayer time just hallowing God’s name, or just thinking about the things you need protection from.

Finally, another way to use the prayer is to use it to pray about specific requests, to let the prayer guide you in your prayers about a specific topic. For example, let’s say you have a friend who is suffering from a grave illness. You could use the Lord’s prayer to pray for your friend like this:

“Our Father, hallowed be your name: You are the Healer. In Your Kingdom there is no sickness or pain. Let your Kingdom come in my friend’s life. Provide her daily bread – a healthy body, good medical care. Forgive her for her sins, help her to forgive others. Help her not to be tempted to turn from you, Protect her from all harm the evil one would seek to bring upon her…”

You can pray through this prayer for decisions you need to make, for anxieties you have, for needs that others ask you to pray for.

Here’s the point: Jesus saw prayer as so important that He taught his disciples how to pray. He didn’t teach them how to preach, he didn’t teach them how to sing , but he did teach them how to pray. He shows us how to have the kind of relationship with God that He shares with his own Father. And that is a remarkable gift.