“Praying The Lord’s Prayer,” from Tim Keller (God’s Peace, Petition to the Lord, Prayer Resources)

Tim Keller’s notable book on Prayer, experiencing awe and intimacy with God offers the following treasured notes on praying the Lord’s Prayer explaining that…

  1. None of our three master teachers of prayer, Augustine, Luther, and Calvin, developed their instruction primarily based on their own experiences. In each case, what they believed and practiced regarding prayer grew mainly out of their understanding of the ultimate master class in prayer—the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9–13, in the heart of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
  2. The Lord’s Prayer may be the single set of words spoken more often than any other in the history of the world. Jesus Christ gave it to us as the key to unlock all the riches of prayer. Yet it is an untapped resource, partially because it is so very familiar.
  3.  Jesus is saying, as it were, “Wouldn’t you like to be able to come face-to-face with the Father and King of the universe every day, to pour out your heart to him, and to sense him listening to and loving you?” We say, of course, yes. Jesus responds, “It’s all in the Lord’s Prayer.”
  4. How do we overcome the deadly peril of familiarity? One of the best ways is to listen to these three great mentors, who plumbed the depths of the prayer through years of reflection and practice.

“Our Father Who Art in Heaven”

  • Calvin explains that to call God “Father” is to pray in Jesus’ name. “Who would break forth into such rashness as to claim for himself the honor of a son of God unless we had been adopted as children of grace in Christ?”
  • Luther also believed the address was a call to not plunge right into talking to God but to first recollect our situation and realize our standing in Christ before we proceed into prayer.
  • Calvin agrees that “by the great sweetness of this name [Father] he frees us from all distrust.”

“Hallowed Be Thy Name”

  • A seeming problem of logic, expressed by Luther. “What are we praying for when we ask that His name become holy?
  • Luther, who joins Augustine when he says it is a prayer that God “be glorified among all nations as you are glorified among us.”
  • To “hallow” God’s name is not merely to live righteous lives but to have a heart of grateful joy toward God—and even more, a wondrous sense of his beauty. We do not revere his name unless he “captivate[s] us with wonderment for him.”

“Thy Kingdom Come”

  • This is the cause of all our human problems, since we were created to serve him, and when we serve other things in God’s place, all spiritual, psychological, cultural, and even material problems ensue. Therefore, we need his kingdom to “come.” Calvin believed there were two ways God’s kingdom comes—through the Spirit, who “corrects our desires,” and through the Word of God, which “shapes our thoughts.”
  • This, then, is a “Lordship” petition: It is asking God to extend his royal power over every part of our lives—emotions, desires, thoughts, and commitments.
  • We are asking God to so fully rule us that we want to obey him with all our hearts and with joy.
  • To pray “thy kingdom come” is to “yearn for that future life” of justice and peace.

“Thy Will Be Done”

  • Unless we are profoundly certain God is our Father, we will never be able to say “Thy will be done.”
  • Only if we trust God as Father can we ask for grace to bear our troubles with patience and grace.
  • This is the one part of the Lord’s Prayer Jesus himself prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, under circumstances far more crushing than any of us will ever face. He submitted to his Father’s will rather than following his own desires, and it saved us. That’s why we can trust him.
  • Calvin adds that to pray “thy will be done” is to submit not only our wills to God but even our feelings, so that we do not become despondent, bitter, and hardened by the things that befall us.
  • The beginning of prayer is all about God. We are not to let our own needs and issues dominate prayer; rather, we are to give pride of place to praising and honoring him, to yearning to see his greatness and to see it acknowledged everywhere, and to aspiring to full love and obedience.
  • First, because it heals the heart of its self-centeredness.

“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”

  • Augustine reminds us that “daily bread” is a metaphor for necessities rather than luxuries.
  • For Luther, then, to pray for our daily bread is to pray for a prosperous and just social order.

“Forgive Us Our Debts as We Forgive Our Debtors”

  • The fifth petition concerns our relationships, both with God and others.
  • In the presence of God everyone must duck his head and come into the joy of forgiveness only through the low door of humility.
  • If regular confession does not produce an increased confidence and joy in your life, then you do not understand the salvation by grace, the essence of the faith.
  • Jesus tightly links our relationship with God to our relationship with others.
  • Unresolved bitterness is a sign that we are not right with God.
  • It also means that if we are holding a grudge, we should see the hypocrisy of seeking forgiveness from God for sins of our own.

“Lead Us Not into Temptation”

  • Temptation in the sense of being tried and tested is not only inevitable but desirable. The Bible talks of suffering and difficulty as a furnace in which many impurities of soul are “burned off” and we come to greater self-knowledge, humility, durability, faith, and love. However, to “enter into temptation,” as Jesus termed it (Matt 26:41), is to entertain and consider the prospect of giving in to sin.

“Deliver Us from Evil”

  • Calvin combined this phrase with “lead us not into temptation” and called it the sixth and last petition. Augustine and Luther, however, viewed “deliver us from evil” as a separate, seventh petition.
  • This seventh petition is for protection from evil outside us, from malignant forces in the world, especially our enemies who wish to do us harm.

“For Thine Is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory Forever”

  • Augustine does not mention it because it was not in most earlier manuscripts of the Bible or in the Latin Vulgate. Luther does not treat it.
  • Calvin, while noting that “this is not extant in the Latin versions,” believes that “it is so appropriate to this place that it ought not to be omitted.”
  • After descending into our needs, troubles, and limitations, we return to the truth of God’s complete sufficiency.

Like Luther in A Simple Way to Pray, Calvin insists that the Lord’s Prayer does not bind us to its particular form of words but rather to its content and basic pattern.

The Lord’s Prayer is a summary of all other prayers, providing essential guidance on emphasis and topics, on purpose and even spirit.

Prayer is therefore not a strictly private thing. As much as we can, we should pray with others both formally in gathered worship and informally. Why? If the substance of prayer is to continue a conversation with God, and if the purpose of it is to know God better, then this can happen best in community. By praying with friends, you will be able to hear and see facets of Jesus that you have not yet perceived.

Tim Keller, Prayer, experiencing awe and intimacy with God

Links for further reading include:  (see “Prayer, Breathing God” page for more resources from L.Willows)

“The Power of Prayer”, from R.A. Torrey (united prayer, worship, God who Loves)

Rejoice in Hope, Be Patient in Tribulation, Be Constant in Prayer by John Piper

Draw Near to God in Prayer: John Calvin on The Definition and Effectiveness of Prayer, by Dr. Joel R. Beeke

Draw Near to God Through Prayer; John Calvin’s “Rules of Prayer”

Rejoice in Hope, Be Patient in Tribulation, Be Constant in Prayer by John Piper

Conforming to God’s Holiness from Ligonier Ministries of RC Sproul

Is Anything Too Hard For The Lord? Sermon from C.H.Spurgeon, 1888 Metropolitan Tabernacle

Draw Near to God in Prayer: John Calvin on The Definition and Effectiveness of

Prayer, by Dr. Joel R. Beeke

“My Neighbor’s Hand”, from L.Willows (Mercy, Loving One Another, Blessing)

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My Neighbor’s Hand, by L.Willows

Yesterday I broke a rule. It was a beautiful day and I was eager to take a walk in the morning so I was “suited up” with my mask, sunglasses, sunscreen, tissues for my hands as I would need to handle some door-nobs and the elevator buttons in my apartment building to exit and a sun hat for protection when I walked. I had ear-plugs so that I could listen to scripture on my iPhone as I paced through God’s beauty in a nearby garden park. I was set to go and covered with protection.

But life is full of the unexpected. As I locked my door and glanced down the hall I saw my neighbor that I had not seen in many months. She is an Ethiopian woman in her nineties that I have revered and deeply loved. She is my friend. Since the beginning of the Pandemic, I have not been able to visit with her. Her Caretaker told me that her sons and family stopped visiting at the same time so she has been alone- something which never happened before COVID. I remember that her home was full day and night “before”, filled with the aroma of Ethiopian cooking and the chatter of her visitors.

There she was in the distance in her cotton whites that fell upon the ground as she slowly struggled to walk in the hall with her Caretaker. She looked fragile. I waved and she waved back. My heart was drawn to go to greet her. Most of her petite face was hidden beneath her mask. It was a sweet reunion. Her large eyes were shining. I took off my prescription sunglasses. We were probably both blurry eyed. Her vision was most likely better than mine.

“Oh Sweet One. I have missed you. Are you well?” I asked? She looked directly into me with concern and said, “Yes. Yes. Well, but I am feeling very weak. I have not seen you. I walked by your apartment but did not see you. I was worried about you. We don’t see you. So much time…” I told her that I was home all the while, the same as she was, just staying safe inside of my apartment and that I was fine, very good!

Then, I said, “I love you. I miss you.” My heart was overwhelmed by her loveliness. I told her that she is like part of my family to me, that my own family is far away, some parts of it very distant for a long time. Here she was, sweet and kind, steps away and separated from the ones that she loves. I knew that no one had hugged or greeted her with love for a very long time. That was when I broke the rule.

I put my hand upon hers. It was the first time that I touched a person’s hand since isolating in the Pandemic. (the Rule-breaker alarm went off in my head) I said to her, “Is this alright? Is it alright that I touch your hand?” I knew that I was breaching the “code”.  She looked at me knowingly. Then she placed her other hand on top of mine and cupped mine as if in a blessing.

The breach became Blessed. In that moment, I knew that love was stronger than anything in this world. Is the Love Code larger? When? How? Why? I did not intend to break the laws of man or to disobey safety. The moment seemed to be pointing to a deeper truth.

When we reach in the Name of Love, in the Motive of Love, namely because the Love of Christ is our cause- then our steps become Blessed, wherever they lead. There is no breach, no break because we walk under the Law of God not the law of man. We are sons and daughters of His Covenant. God covers us with His Protection though His Promises.

I did not “think” in the moment.  It only felt full, lasting with Love and sent to me by God’s Spirit. The memory is vivid to recall. I pray protection for my dear friend and for us all. As I walked afterward, I prayed in all of God’s beauty for my precious family, my spiritual family, my community, the suffering everywhere and for our wisdom and discernment as we walk forward with our neighbors- whoever and wherever in the world they are. Lord, bring us together as Your Own and give us hearts that do not know separation.

© 2020 Linda Willows

“Assured by God’s constant Love, Protection and mighty Faithfulness” from LWillows

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Assured by God’s constant Love, Protection and mighty Faithfulness, from LWillows

“When I am assured of the constancy of God’s Love, the power of His Protection and the might His eternal Faithfulness I rest in Him, savor His Promises and soar with joy.”

Promised

The word assurance itself means “confident in, promised” characterized by security. In life, amidst the swirling and rapidly changing circumstances that we each live in, it can be easy even for the most solid minded and strong-hearted of us to lose the sense of feeling secure. We assume our confidence by attaching value, even our own value to the state of our circumstances, often to our relationships as well. We look to these rather than to God for the reflection of who we are and “how we are”.

Secure

Our sense of security can be easily swayed by temporal things, especially those that we don’t like to name as temporal like our “heart possessions” and many things that we hold on to dearly. We want to be assured that we are loved, safe, protected and often- needed as well. Being needed can convince us that we are loved but it is not a substitute nor will it fill what is truly seeking to be filled. The heart longs to be reunited with God, to be in a tangible relationship with The true source of Love, Protection and the one that is forever Faithful. God knows all of our needs before they are even expressed. We run to try to fill one another but God is the only true full-filler.

Belief

I have noticed that there is a vast difference between assurance which is the result of “belief” and our current culture’s grasp of “knowing”.  Belief is defined as the feeling of being certain that something exists or is true.

“Know” or knowing, as we use the word today is an awareness that is the result of an investigation or the gathering of information. I developed a lifelong habit of seeking to know as a way of gaining control over chaos and uncertainty. Surely in a world that spins out of control, we are want to know more and more. Yet it does not actually satisfy. It is a false comforter.

When David asked for knowledge in the Psalms, he spoke with great reverence and humility before God. His asking for knowledge was not one that investigated God, it was already submissive to The Sovereignty of The LORD. God’s answer and prompting would be received with complete faith and belief. Prayer is the best companion during spiritual transformation. Our own hearts cannot lead us.

Psalm 25: 4-5 Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

David’s belief was powerfully in God. He knew God’s character. This was the God of his salvation. He prayed day and night.

He had Godly Belief.

The kind of belief that advances us is Godly Belief. This is belief not in the things of this world or in anything temporal but in what is God-Breathed, in The LORD’s holy word. Godly Belief leads to prayer and worship. Prayer and worship a personal relationship with The Lord. This holy relationship inspires faith, the unseen of belief.

Godly Belief is holy hope, it is the substance of faith and the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Assurance

Assurance is one of the most beautiful states of being. It implies a positive declaration intended to give confidence; a promise. When I used the word assured you are resting in confidence but the beauty of its significance is that it is not your own strength that you rest in but in the strength and power of God. You claim assurance because you can positively declare that your confidence is in God’s promises. Your confidence has come to a full dependency upon the strength of the Lord. In this you find certainty. Your sentence can begin with the words. “I am assured”. I rest in this because all confidence is in God.

I am so grateful to have a prayerful and worshipful relationship with The Lord. The more that the character of God becomes revealed to me in ways that are vivid to my heart, the more my faith increases. When I believe that “I am assured of the constancy of God’s Love, the power of His Protection and the might His eternal Faithfulness I enter into a state of rest and peace”, it causes all of me to soar.

Faith

I see life and circumstances differently. Challenges are not obstacles they are part of an ongoing sojourn. Everything that we face can be embraced because we humbly realize that we cannot do it alone. All confidence is in God. As I am assured of His Love and Protection I need not live in fear. I cannot. Love and fear cannot reside in the same space. As I believe and faith increases, trust becomes a powerful ally.

Trust, hope, faith, believe, love, confidence in God. This is the assurance in living in the might of His eternal Faithfulness.

Joy

My heart is bursting with joy as doors swing open in this Faith Walk. How could we want to move forward in any other way? After being so loved with such might and carried even when we thought we were left behind, how could we not run to the One that has been so Faithful to us?

Then, who am I? I am a child of God. How am I? I am at peace; secure in His Love.

When I am assured of the constancy of God’s Love, the power of His Protection and the might His eternal Faithfulness I rest in Him, savor His Promises and soar with joy.

© 2018 Linda Willows

His Promises:

Psalm 119:32 I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding.

Isaiah 40:31 But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Psalm 89:2 I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself.