February: Matthew 5; Luke 6
When I taught my children to pray, I told them we talked to God with a Prayer Sandwich. Like the two pieces of bread we begin with “Dear Heavenly Father” and end with “In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.” Then you can add anything from your heart in the middle, and it’s a prayer.
That may be a great analogy for children, but if we look at the elements of the Lord’s prayer, there are attitudes and statements that, as an adult, I may want to begin to incorporate to increase my relationship with Christ.
Let’s look more closely at each part:
Our Father which art in Heaven Hallowed by thy name.
As we approach our father, do we remember our close relationship with him? Do we pause to feel that he has the power to teach us and do we remind ourselves that he is holy? Is our attitude fully respectful?
Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be Done on Earth as it is in Heaven
Could we begin our prayer with a statement of submission? Right up front we could show our “real intent” to God by committing that what He directs we will do. Thy will not mine be done.
Give Us this Day our Daily Bread
Jesus is the bread of life. Have I eaten that bread today? If I’ve taken the bread by reading his word, have I digested it? Also, true concerns for physical needs could be right at the beginning, but are they needs or simply desires and can we discern the difference.
And Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors
(JST, Forgive our trespasses and we forgive those who trespassed against us)
Christ repeats this sentiment multiple times in the scriptures:
“I the Lord will forgive whom I will forgive but of you it is required to forgive all men.”
“Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy” Matt 5
“Inasmuch as you have forgiven on another your trespasses, even so, I, the Lord, will forgive you.” D&C 82:1
Is there anyone I harbor negative feelings about or have hurt? What can I do to make that right? Show me if I can help heal?
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
(JST Suffer us not be led into temptation, but deliver us from evil.)
Much like when Christ was carried to the pinnacle of the temple, he was not carried by Satan but by the Spirit. Then afterward Satan came. (See JST, Matt. 4:5) The Father can help us to know ahead of time where to go and inspire us with how to resist the challenges we may face. Much like Paul’s great promise about escaping temptation, so often misquoted:“…but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Cor 10:13) Many times that escape like so many blessings is contingent on the asking.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen
Do we conclude with acknowledgment of what the Lord has done in your life? Upon taking the sacrament we promise to “always remember him,” but do we rehearse those faith-building moments that might lift us currently? Are we learning from the light we’ve been given to increase our light?
Do we remember our covenants and our ultimate goal? Can we end by praising him?
My sweet father used to pray for what seemed like hours on his knees, especially in the morning. With a family of twelve very active and sometimes out-of-control children and a challenging Wall Street career, he relied so heavily on prayer to lift and sustain him.
As a mother of young children many young children with a husband who often traveled, those long quiet stretches of time were nonexistent in my life. I grew used to prayers on the go or talking aloud to my Heavenly Father in the car when I drove. Now that my schedule is more my own, perhaps it is time to revisit the way I pray. Maybe it’s time to outgrow my prayer sandwich and start praying like a grownup.