Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Lord's Prayer

My first DMin class was "Principles and Practice of Prayer" taught by Dr. Elmer Towns.  Dr. Towns has long been one of my heroes so I was looking forward to this class.  Much of it focused on the Lord's Prayer as he had written a book that examined that prayer.  In all honesty, I had never really spent much time studying the Lord's Prayer and was not usually excited when congregations recited it as part of their worship service.  I had studied it only for the lessons we could gather from it, but I had not studied it for its own value.  Obviously, that changed during the course of this class.

Dr. Towns shared with the class a practice he had followed for many years.  When he woke up in the morning, before ever getting out of bed, he prayed the Lord's Prayer.  The last thing he did when he laid down at night was to pray the Lord's Prayer.  This directed his first thoughts of the day and his last thoughts of the day towards God.  I found that appealing.  It was certainly better than waking up thinking about all the things on one's to-do list and going to bed at night frustrated about all the things that didn't get accomplished during the day.  I saw it as "bookending" the day with God, and that seemed to be a very good practice.  I have done this ever since in my own life.

I'm certain that I'm not as faithful to begin and end each day praying the Lord's Prayer as Dr. Towns has been, but I have found this to be a very good practice.  It does begin the day with a proper focus.  Praying the Lord's Prayer when I lay down at night helps put aside some of the issues of the day and allows me to fall asleep rather than laying there thinking about any frustrations of the day.  I also find myself praying the Lord's Prayer during the day.  While driving to some event I can pray this prayer as part of my prayer for this event, or it can certainly stand alone as an appropriate prayer.  There are times when I focus on one aspect of the Lord's Prayer and simply talk to God about that one aspect.

Yes, this can become mechanical to where we pray it without really thinking about what we're praying, but that is our problem, not the prayer's.  It should not substitute for other prayers and become the only prayer we ever pray.  During the course of a day there are numerous things we should pray about, but at the same time we should not neglect this wonderful prayer.

It has always seemed odd to me that those of us in ministry often struggle with our own devotional and prayer life.  We can become so busy doing things for God that we forget to spend time with God.  I have found that praying the Lord's Prayer as a spiritual discipline can help jumpstart that devotional time because as I conclude that prayer I often continue right on into other things that I need to pray about.  You may want to make this part of your own personal spiritual disciplines.

1 comment:

Tom said...

I have found just such a spiritual exercise to be of great benefit. If I get out of bed before saying the Lord's Prayer, it still becomes a major part of my morning workout on the treadmill. The machine allows me to focus on listening to God as he prepares me for the day and helps me review the needs of family and friends. Rather than rote repetition, the Prayer becomes a guide for me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.