It was only a few years ago, if I remember accurately, that I began to incorporate the Lord’s Prayer into my daily prayer life. I think the reason that I hadn’t done it was—I admit this to my shame—that the prayer had been mostly meaningless to me. And the reason for that meaninglessness was that, for most of my Christian life, the prayer was no more than a chant. You know what I mean, right? People in trouble repeat it as if it was some kind of—I don’t know—religious I-hope-this-works kind of thing. Or at a Christian gathering to add some kind of spiritual imprimatur on the event. We all joined in, mindlessly. Well, I did.

That’s a shame.

However, I began to reconsider Jesus’ own words: “When you pray, pray like this.” That should be important, it seems. So, off I went to re-think the Lord’s Prayer. Before I begin to offer what I do, let me preface this with this strange fact: There isn’t a lot of instruction in Scripture about how to pray. (Lots of books written, though—have you noticed?) There are lot of prayers in the Bible—which should be studied in order to help us know what was important for those men and women to talk to the Lord about—but how to pray—not much. The Lord’s Prayer is the clearest that’s offered.

When I begin, I address the Father: “Our Father.” He’s not just my Father—He’s our Father. That means I have lots of brothers and sisters. So, I tell Him that I rejoice in that innumerable company, that I look forward to meeting them all someday. I rejoice with them, even now, with those in heaven and on earth, for making us His sons and daughters. I thank Him for saving me, by His grace. For sovereignly choosing me. I tell Him what a privilege it is to be able to know the great God of the universe. I tell Him that I approach His throne, not in my righteousness—I don’t have any—less than zero—but in the righteousness of His Son. I then thank Jesus for leaving His glorious heavenly home—I still don’t think we comprehend what a diminishment that was for Him—and for teaching, healing, delivering, performing miracles while He was here, but most of all for suffering for me, for taking my punishment upon Himself and dying for…me.

Then I say, “You’re in heaven.” He’s separate from us, yet with us by His Spirit and through His Son. However, He is sovereign over all. All people shall bow before Him, rich and poor, great and insignificant. He is the only one true God. There were no gods before Him and there never will be any others. He is the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega. I then go on to enumerate the biblical characteristics about Him I so appreciate—including one I added recently—that He is low and humble in heart, which still continues to astound me.

Then: “Holy is Your name.” He is perfectly set apart from all that exists physically. I can’t comprehend this. He is perfectly holy. Perfectly sinless. Perfectly morally pure. Not a spot, not a hint, not the tiniest particle of sin. This is something else I cannot comprehend. He is so unlike me. I ask Him then to make me, my family, my friends, and His Church, more set apart and more holy in our hearts. Please, Lord—I know we are holy only through You, but please move us to greater set-apartness from the world and purity in our lives. Like Paul, we want to do what pleases You.

Next time: Your kingdom come.