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The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. — James 5:16b
During childhood many of us were taught the Lord’s Prayer. We can recite it “from memory” and it doesn’t mean a thing, if we’re not careful. Whether we call it the “Lord’s Prayer” or the “Model Prayer” it reads like this in Matthew 6:9-13: “. . . 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 (some say ‘trespasses’), as we forgive our debtors (or ‘those who trespass against us’). 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.”
Whether praying this prayer before going out on patrol in the desert, before going to bed at night, or as part of worship or a discipline of daily time with God, it’s a good reminder to examine this prayer for our “heart attitude” so that it doesn’t become just part of a “check-list of to-dos.”
Dr. John MacArthur quotes a passage in his sermon entitled “The Plan of Prayer” which does just that—examines our heart attitude. From an unknown author it says:
“I cannot say ‘Our’ if I live only for myself in a spiritually watertight compartment.
I cannot say ‘Father’ if I do not endeavor each day to act like His child.
I cannot say ‘who art in heaven’ if I am laying up no treasure there.
I cannot say ‘hallowed be Thy name’ if I am not striving for holiness.
I cannot say ‘Thy kingdom come’ if I am not doing all in my power to hasten that wonderful event.
I cannot say ‘in earth as it is in heaven’ if I’ll not serve Him here and now.
I cannot say ‘give us this day our daily bread’ if I am dishonest or if I am seeking things by subterfuge.
I cannot say ‘forgive us our debts’ if I harbor a grudge against anyone.
I cannot say ‘lead us not into temptation’ if I deliberately place myself in its path.
I cannot say ‘deliver us from evil’ if I do not put on the whole armor of God.
I cannot say ‘Thine is the kingdom’ if I do not give to the King the loyalty due Him as a faithful subject.
I cannot attribute to Him the power if I fear what men may do.
I cannot ascribe to Him the glory if I’m seeking honor only for myself.
And I cannot say ‘forever’ if the horizon of my life is bounded completely by time.”
This anonymous saint is reminding us (and I believe we need reminding in these hectic times and crucial circumstances) that the attitude of our heart will be expressed in our relationship to Jesus and will be reflected in how we pray.
Perhaps you can use these check-points to intentionally examine your heart attitude towards our Lord. Then an attitude check can lead to an action check. . . and then we can demonstrate a truly committed heart on the front lines or on the home front.
Work Cited: Dr. John MacArthur’s “The Plan of Prayer, Part 1” is available at: www.gty.org/resources/print/sermons/2237
Questions to Share:
1. Take the time to pray the Lord’s Prayer, pausing after each phrase to examine what that phrase really means in your life today.
2. If possible, take the time to pray the Lord’s Prayer together with your spouse over the phone.