In His much-quoted “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus gave the following beloved prayer to the Church. Imagine the profoundness of such an impartation: God Himself—incarnate—teaching His offspring how to pray just so He can graciously respond. How intense is that! If He told us what to pray, surely, He intends to answer. Here it is:
“Our Father, who is in Heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come; Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil. For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:9-13 MEV, see Luke 11:1-4)
“The Lord’s Prayer” can be quoted word-for-word, sincerely from the heart, and be an effective way of communicating with God. However, it seems very unlikely that Jesus intended His followers to memorize it and always speak it the same way, or repeat it numerous times in one setting, like I once did as a Catholic. In corporate gatherings, yes, that is necessary for everyone to pray in unison. But private times of prayer are a different matter. Remember, Jesus prefaced this beloved prayer with the directive, “In this manner, therefore, pray”—which could mean, “Use a similar approach.” (Matthew 6:9).
Improvising with “The Lord’s Prayer”
I encourage you to use “The Lord’s Prayer” as a basic outline—a spiritual template—that highlights key concepts, line-by-line, and then expand those concepts during a time of seeking God. With each phrase, express fresh, creative, worshipful utterances, related in meaning to the original words. Let’s start with the first line:
“Our Father in heaven, Your name is holy.”
After making that statement, you can enlarge its meaning first by celebrating the Fatherhood of God, then by celebrating various names given to Him in Scripture, such as:
“Oh God, You are my Everlasting Father. You are the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. I am Your child. I believe You love me like a Father, You will provide for me like a Father, and You will protect me like a Father.”
“Your name is holy. You are El Shaddai, the Almighty God. There is nothing too hard for You. You are Yahweh-Rapha, the Lord my healer. You are Yahweh-Yireh, the Lord my provider, You are Yahweh-Tsidkenu, the Lord my righteousness. You are my Rock and my refuge; I hide myself in You. You are the Author and Finisher of my faith. You are the Lord of hosts, the God of an army of angels, poised and ready to fight my battles. You are the King of kings, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
By rehearsing the Fatherhood of God, you are immersing yourself in His love for you. By acknowledging that God is “in heaven,” you are establishing His authority, that He is higher than you and to Him you intend to be accountable. By rehearsing His beautiful names and titles, you are “hallowing” His name.
The next phrase is both a prayer and a proclamation:
“Your kingdom come.”
After making this request, you may want to prayerfully describe what God’s kingdom is, and the ways it can manifest in your life. For instance, Romans 14:17 says, “The kingdom of God . . . is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” So after this line, it would be a logical time to pray, “Father, fill me with Your righteousness. Let me be strong in upholding Your righteous standards in this world. Let me also be filled with Your joy and Your peace until these expressions of Your nature overflow to others.”
Next comes submission to God and to your individual purpose:
“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
With this statement you can intercede for various nations and communities. You can also seek a personal revelation from God of His will for your life, or the implementation of His will. Next, the provision plea:
“Give us this day our daily bread.”
After praying that line, pray about specific material needs you may have and the provisions God has promised His people in the Bible. Identify certain things you need in your life naturally and spiritually as well (like healing for your body, which Jesus said is “the children’s bread”—Matthew 15:26). Next, the big hurdle:
“And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”
At this juncture, you need to dig deep into the darker areas of your soul. Find any roots of bitterness or unforgiveness and pull them up by releasing those who have harmed you from their “debt.” Forgive them, not from the mind, but from the heart. Even pray for them in a positive way. That doesn’t always mean a restoration of relationship, but it does mean letting go of the resentment, the anger, and in some cases, even the desire for revenge.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil.”
Pray protection for yourself and for your family, deliverance from the evil that streams from your own lower nature, from the world, and from all demonic plots and plans. Pray for strength to resist and strength to endure. Target specific areas of personal concern.
“For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”
Request that any good done in any of the areas mentioned will be: (1) for the advance of the kingdom of God, (2) accomplished by the power of God, and (3) for the glory of God alone. You could mention specific ways you want to help advance God’s kingdom, by impacting certain people and influencing specific places with the Gospel. Assure God that any breakthroughs that happen or any answers that come will be for His praise, His honor and to lift up His name—then spend time worshiping Him in advance, believing that what you have requested, you will receive.