“Thy will be done… Forgive us our trespasses… Lead us not into temptation…”
The Lord’s Prayer is part of our daily conversation with God. Jesus gave us a prayer to use “whenever you pray” (Luke 11:2, emphasis added). Some Christians avoid this prayer out of fear that it would become the very “meaningless repetition” that Jesus warns us against in Matthew 6:7, but a far better solution is to take the time to use these words thoughtfully and purposefully as our Savior has given them to us.
If we go further and follow the Lord’s Prayer as an outline for the prayers of our hearts, we will be more likely to find the proper balance between asking selfishly for our own needs and giving God the honor due His name. Of the seven petitions, only one (the Fourth Petition) asks for “stuff,” and even then, it is only to meet our most basic physical needs: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
The season of Lent also reminds us to keep this perspective. Lent lasts for forty days, a time during which many of us “give something up,” that is, do without, just as Jesus fasted for forty days in the wilderness and told the devil, “Man does not live by bread alone,” (Deuteronomy 8:3). Other things are equally important or even more important than “daily bread”: that God’s kingdom would come, that His will would be done.
And although we pray that our heavenly Father’s will would be done, we have to admit almost in the same breath that we have transgressed it, and we plead, “Forgive us our trespasses.” But Jesus Himself taught us to pray this, so we know that God promises to do it for us. Christ, the Lamb of God, has been sacrificed to take away all of our sin, and so we will gladly forgive those who trespass against us.
Finally, we pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” As if we needed any more temptation in our lives, we give up desserts or soft drinks for Lent, and our appetites may lead us astray. This serves as a reminder that God tempts no one, but the devil, the world, and our flesh deceive us into thinking that we will be happier apart from God’s will than within it; yet that leads to misery and death. Our Father in heaven is the one who rescues us, who “delivers us from evil,” by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
During Lent we remember that our sin has cut us off from God. But our heavenly Father graciously allows us to have daily conversation with Him. He has even given us words to speak, because He initiated the conversation. The communication is not one-way only. He speaks to us in His Word, and we know that He hears us through Christ our Savior.