When I began to pray the long play (LP) version of the Lord's Prayer, I improved my prayer life exponentially. Ten years ago my brother was really sick. I was desperate for God to heal him and couldn’t fix the situation. I knew to pray, but words eluded me. So I returned to the basics – the Lord’s Prayer. At first, I repeated the words as a heartfelt cry unto God. Then I expanded the prayer, and it came to life as I saw the words encompass every area of my world.
Here’s how I broke up the prayer:
“Our Father, which art in Heaven.” First, I focused on God’s character. Who God is.
“Hallowed be Thy Name.” Next I honed in on names of God.
I often combined Jehovah Nissi with Isaiah 59:19 “When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.” (NKJV) I envisioned the Lord raising His banner above me in the midst of my battle, fighting for me as His child. I felt protected and safe.
“Thy kingdom come.” Here I included items like God’s kingdom to reign over all the earth. My prayers ranged from the government to getting the gospel out to unreached, unengaged peoples in remote parts of the world.
“Thy Will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” I couldn’t pray for God’s will while holding onto my demands. I had to surrender my hopes and dreams. God’s character and name reminded me I could trust Him. I told God even if my brother died, I would still trust Him. It helped me to envision the worst, and walk back from there. That allowed God to be Sovereign in my mind over any outcome. The verse also reminded me this world was not my home. There would be a day when things were right in heaven. Life was messy from living in a fallen world. This life was not all there was, and my hope was secure in heaven with Christ.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” Next I thanked God for all that He had already provided for, and asked Him to do it again. Asking for daily bread brings dependency on God. Too many times I want God to provide not only for my daily needs, but I want peace about the rest of my life. Lamentations 3:21-24 says “This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness.” (NKJV) God’s mercies don’t run out, and are new each day.
When the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness, they were only allowed to gather enough manna for one day. Only on the day before the Sabbath were they allowed to gather for two days. God loves to show us our need to rely on His strength. That way we don’t get proud, and God gets the glory rightfully due Him.
“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Forgiveness is a key aspect of prayer. I had to examine my heart and ensure I wasn’t harboring a lack of forgiveness. When I compared how much God had forgiven me with any sin a person could commit against me, I found no justification for not forgiving someone else. When I forgive others, it frees God to forgive me and hear my prayers.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” God knows we are tempted to turn against God. The spiritual war wages around us though our physical eyes do not see the fight. The enemy will do anything to steer us into destruction. We need to ask God to keep our feet moving on the straight and narrow so that even when we are on our knees, we crawl forward. We need God’s protection.
“For Thine is the Kingdom.” God already rules over the whole universe. We can choose to acknowledge this or not. When we submit to God’s reign, instead of trying to write our own guidelines, we have a greater peace from not striving to understand everything.
“And the power.” John 15:5 says “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. (NKJV) This verse is beautifully shows we are weak and powerless. God has all the power in the universe. I pray God uses His power to do what I cannot.
“And the glory, for ever.” All glory belongs to God. When I boast in my accomplishments, it falsely boosts my pride, and strips God of the honor due Him. God is not about building my ego, but building His kingdom. God deserves all the glory. I’d pray for God to get the glory through my brother’s sickness, regardless of the outcome. I remembered how Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus died and was in the grave several days before Jesus came and called him back to life. God will allow our temporary grief for His greater glory.
“Amen.” This final agreement relinquishes my rights to God to take my imperfect prayers based on finite knowledge and transform them into His will. It reminds me of Romans 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (NKJV) The Holy Spirit turns our prayers into what we would ask if we knew all God does. He sends those corrected desires to the Father. It is as if I prayed, “God, please give me a pink pony.” The Holy Spirit, knowing I have nowhere to keep a pony, but the real issue is that I am lonely, instead asks, “Father, give her a friend.” The Holy Spirit knows the true need and translates that to the Father on my behalf. Leaving me utterly grateful.
That is my LP version of the Lord’s Prayer. As I interceded for my brother, God did heal him after over a year of us not knowing if he would survive. But my trust in God grew so much because I saw Him answer prayer and change my heart as I surrendered to Him. May the Lord’s Prayer become alive to you as you play your own LP version and commune with the Father in a new way.
Joanna Eccles has led Bible studies for over ten years and completed the year-long C. S. Lewis Fellows Program. She is passionate about discipleship and helping people know God better. Joanna enjoys coffee, traveling, and reading, and currently lives in Virginia.