A mountain climber was slowly making his way up a steep cliff. Suddenly he falls, down, down, until he’s stopped by a small shrub oak jutting out, 200 feet above the ground. He looks up and shouts, “Is there anyone up there?” From the top of the cliff he hears, “Yes, I am the Lord.” “Can you help me?” “Yes, just let go, and let me catch you.” After a few moments of silence the man yells, “Is there anyone else up there?”
I think prayer is often like that: we think God is way up there, somewhere distant, and we get tempted to turn to somebody, or something, else. But the Scriptures point to Someone who is not far off, but closer to us than our breathing. The preacher Martin Lloyd-Jones put it this way, as the finest antidote to worry: I make the choice to believe. I believe in God, the Abba. He is my Father. He loves me. I am His child. He is “Almighty” and there is no problem I have that can match that. You see, I stop, and deliberately choose to declare my choice OUT LOUD. “I BELIEVE IN GOD, THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH.”
I heard a preacher once proclaim: There are 4 important elements in prayer: ACTS—Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication (praying for the needs of others and oneself.) See if you can find all these in this two-part series. PART ONE.
Thank you that we who are fatherless or estranged from our fathers, and all persons, can call you Father, no matter how insecure we may feel in this fragile vale of tears. For such you are. And calling you Father affirms that we are your sons and daughters, not wanderers in a weary world, strangers in a strange land. It is you who have made us, and this whole fearsome, fascinating universe.
We praise you that we are no longer orphans, because in Christ you have adopted us into your eternal family, and called us to live according to your eternal kingdom, and not according to the ways and rules of this fallen world. Indeed, we praise you for letting us call you Father, even “Abba”, Poppa God (Romans 8: 15).
WHO ART IN HEAVEN
And so you are to be revered above all else. You are the one who is to be worshiped and glorified above all the angels in heaven, that place from which all good and perfect gifts flow like an endless mountain stream.
But we thank you that we can also find you here, as we open your Word, and pray, and peer at the ancient Crib and Cross and Empty Tomb. We see your eternal glory in the face of Jesus Christ, but also in the faces of our brothers and sisters in whom you’ve become incarnated. Yes, you are in heaven, but also in the tearful eyes and thin, outstretched or hobbled hands of all the hurting or hungry children of men. And in our hearts: Christ in you, says Colossians 1, is the hope of glory.
HALLOWED BE THY NAME
Forgive us, Father, for not really letting your name be holy in our lives, and for our outbursts of foolishness and profanity. Forgive us for failing to have real awe and reverence before the Name above all names. Forgive us for the familiarity with the holy which almost brings callousness, if not contempt.
Forgive us if we have manipulated others with your name, using your name to gain advantage or power over others. Help us to properly revere the name “KING OF THE JEWS” nailed above that head, crowned with thorns. And as we hallow—make holy—your name, give our lives the reflected holiness that you desire.
THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE
Father, we know that your kingdom and will are the same. We confess that oftentimes we do not want your kingdom, your will, to be first in our lives. Forgive us for putting all kinds of transient things first: our will, our pleasures, or addictions, our jobs and even our families. Again and again we prefer doing the easy thing rather than your will. So we gossip and run others down when we should bless and pray for them, even our enemies. We kick back and lazily watch anything that comes on the tube rather than pray for, write to, call or visit someone in need.
We get terribly anxious about the future, forgetting you are on the throne.
Lord, help us to surrender our foolish wanting to be kings of our own lives, and help us search for and do YOUR will. Make our little lives stepping stones to, and building blocks in, that City with foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Heb. 11: 10). Help us trade in our transient fiefdoms for the kingdom which is eternal.
ON EARTH, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN
Yes, Lord, bring your will, your life, here. Do your thing here, with and in us, and save us from continuing to mainly doing OUR thing. Your thing, the thing going on in Heaven, is love, as the Father and the Son are in a love dance with each other, and spread it abroad by the Holy Spirit. Father, help us love like that. Help us to love the way you, Lord, love us. Grant us vision, Lord, pictures of how we can make a positive difference in someone’s life or in the society around us. And as we learn to love, help us to realize that this alone satisfies the deepest desires of our hearts. (HPK)