Welcome back to our expedition into the heart of prayer! Last week, we begun with a framework for
our prayer lives – P.R.A.Y – a kind of trekking pole to keep us balanced and steady on the journey ahead. Today, we set our compass to navigate through the nine distinct postures encapsulated within the Lord’s timeless teaching on prayer, inviting us into a multifaceted conversation with the Divine. We will draw upon Matthew’s elaboration of Jesus’ profound respond, as recorded for us in Matthew 6:9-13:
1. Stillness: In the opening phrase of the Lord's Prayer, "Our Father in heaven," we encounter a call to stillness—a moment to stop, still and rest our hearts in God intimate identification with us – Our Father – and in the same moment of stillness remember – He is beyond all in heaven!
2. Adoration: "Hallowed be your name." Here, we lift our hearts in adoration, recognizing the holiness and magnificence of God, offering reverence before making any petitions.
3. Petition: "Your kingdom come, your will be done on Earth.” This posture calls us to seek the work of our King in the world. We are under His Kingship, and seek His will to be done across His domain. Whilst He is yet to be universally acknowledged as King, we know this is in truth His eternal identity, and History’s destiny.
4. Intercession: "Give us today our daily bread." speaks of our dependence on God, inviting us to present our needs and desires before Him, trusting in His provision. But not just our needs, but the needs of the world around us – from our families and friends through to the needs of the nations.
4. Confession: "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." This posture invites honest confession, acknowledging our shortcomings and seeking divine grace and cleansing. This posture also teaches us to pray not just for ourselves but for others, extending forgiveness and seeking reconciliation.
5. Perseverance: "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." Here, we acknowledge our vulnerability and the ongoing need for God's sustaining guidance and protection, showing perseverance in our faith – through unanswered prayer, temptation, and evil in the world.
6. Contemplation: “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever.” Here we are called to imagine the world as it rightly is – contemplating the fullness of God’s kingdom covering the earth, with all power and glory being rightfully set before Him, and flowing forth from Him.
7. Listening: Amidst our prayers, the Lord's Prayer reminds us of the importance of listening. Jesus, who spent hours in prayer and clearly received guidance through doing so (see Luke 6:12-16), clearly did not intend for these few words to be all we pray. Rather, these are postures Jesus adopted Himself that create various conversations - where we speak and are heard and then listen and hear back from God.
9. Spiritual Warfare: "Deliver us from evil." In this final plea, we acknowledge the spiritual battles and seek God's deliverance from the forces that seek to derail our journey.
These postures are not just steps to follow mechanically; they inspire a rhythm of vibrant and multi-toned relating with God. They represent the varying stanzas of our conversations with the Father, revealing layers of intimacy, dependence, and trust.
As we unpack each posture, let's invite these attitudes to permeate our prayer lives. May our prayers transcend routine and transform into conversations that reach into the very heart of God. The Lord's Prayer isn't a script to recite but an invitation to a divine dance—a conversation that enriches, sustains, and transforms us.
Stay tuned for Week 4, where we'll take stock of what we’ve learnt so far and look ahead to vision month and how we can begin applying our learnings to the big picture of the year God has for us ahead!