February 1, 2009

Mighty Prayer: The Lord's Prayer

It is interesting to note how many times the Lord has commanded His people through the scriptures to “watch and pray.” To be exact, six times. And of these six times, five had reference to overcoming temptation. The sixth, having reference to watching and praying for the Savior’s Second Coming (see Mark 13:33). When the Lord repeats a saying six times it is in a sense the way the Lord tells us to note something of significance. Thus, watching and praying can have a considerable impact upon our lives.

How then can we learn to pray with the power and intent that the scriptures teach? How can we pray with such devotion that we cannot only avoid temptation, but receive answers to our prayers? How can we, through prayer, become one with the Lord? Like anything else in the gospel, the best way to learn something is by looking to others who knew how. Modeling our own prayers after those who knew can help us to gain the same strength and power that they had.

Not long after calling His disciples, Jesus ascended a mount and gave perhaps the most profound sermon ever recorded (see Matthew 5-7). Like, Moses of old who climbed Mt. Sinai to receive the Law, Jesus, the very Law Giver, ascended the mount to teach of the New Law. There on this small hill, overlooking the beautiful Sea of Galilee, the Lord taught of prayer. Those who had followed Him up the mount had climbed to see the Galilean, but those who listened with a pure heart, heard more than just a man; they heard the Son of God.

While upon the mount, that today is called Beatitudes, the Savior taught the Lord’s Prayer. In this prayer He said: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matthew 6:9-13).

Let us examine each part of the prayer, that we may better use it as a model for our own. The first thing the Lord does is to address the Father “Our Father which art in heaven.” Whereupon, He praises the name of God and acknowledges His role as Father and Ruler; “hallowed be thy name, Thy kingdom come.” This act of praise is often missing from our prayers. Praise helps us to elevate our minds to the greatness of God that we may better realize that we may place our faith in Him, for He is all-powerful and all-knowing. Praising Him helps us to recognize who He
really is.

The third step is to align our will with Him; “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” In the heavens the angels obey the voice of God ("Thy will [is] done ... in heaven"). On earth man more often than not, ignores and disrespects the will of God. Thus, to pray with mighty prayer we must learn to align our will with that of God; in doing so we gain His attributes of power and knowledge. This means that when faced with challenges we can know that we will succeed because the Lord is on our side, “for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27).

Fourth, we are to ask for those things we need, both spiritual and physical,
and we are to realize from whom these blessings come; “give us this day our daily bread.” It is significant that Jesus asks for daily bread, for the only time that this had been previously done was when the Lord fed Israel with “daily bread” or manna (see Exodus 16:14-15). Later, Jesus compared Himself with this “daily bread” in His discourse on the Bread of Life (see John 6). Thus, to pray with mighty prayer, we are to ask for both our physical substance, but to also ask for the daily renewal of our spiritual substance.

Fifth, we are to forgive as we have been forgiven; “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” We each have sinned before the Lord, and thus each need the grace and power of the Lord. How oft has He offered us His forgiveness to us? How oft has He extended His arm in mercy towards us? Thus, to be able to pray with true power, we must forgive others that we may gain His grace and forgiveness. This does two things, first it helps us be clean before Him, that we may stand spotless before Him. It also helps us to become like unto Him; and in doing so, we gain His attributes and His power.

The last step is to pray that the Father will “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Again, the Lord teaches that it is through prayer that we are delivered from temptation. It is through this unity of God and Man that we can gain His kingdom. “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.” In these verses, note the placement of the colon. It is placed between “deliver us from evil” and “For thine is the kingdom, and power, and the glory.” We are released from temptation because it is through His power and through His glory. It is not on our own merits that we are saved, but through His. Note how here again the Lord teaches us of the importance of praise and of acknowledging the power of God. Thus, twice the Lord uses praise to gain access to the Father; He begins and concludes with words of praise.

By using the Lord’s Prayer as a template for our own, we learn that we must first, address the Father, then praise and recognize His power and divine role. We then are then to accept His will and ask for both our spiritual and physical substance. Then we are to ask for our own forgiveness and to then pardon those who may offend or hurt us. Finally, we are to pray that we may be lead not into temptation, but unto His Kingdom. As we learn to pattern our prayers after that of the Savior, we will truly learn how to become “mighty, even unto the power of deliverance” (1 Nephi 1:20).

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