Timothy Keller’s book, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God is rocking my world. In chapter 6, Keller cites Martin Luther’s suggestion that we “…pray through each petition of the Lord’s prayer, paraphrasing and personalizing each one using your own needs and concerns (p. 93).” This morning, I tried it. Here’s how it went:
“Our Father who art in Heaven…”
You are in Heaven, enthroned, sovereign. You have and will vanquish all your enemies. You are here on earth, too. The Kingdom of heaven and the King of Heaven are within me.
“Hallowed be thy name…”
You are worthy of all praise, and of all you ask of us, of all of me.
“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”
I align my will with yours. I submit myself as an instrument to your purposes — to establish your Kingdom on this earth. Use me to erase the effects of the fall and sin in this world: injustice, poverty, and despair.
“Give us this day our daily bread…”
You are the Source of all our material provision. Even our capacity to work comes from you. We live in the land of plenty. Make my husband and me a pass-through for your provision to others. Make us generous people and continue to give us the means to help the poor.
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Thank you that you have made every provision for removing our sin as far as the East is from the West. Help me to see the gravity of my own sin and to desire not to sin with purer motivation: a desire not to grieve you. Give me strength to love and to cover a multitude of others’ sin with love drawn from the deep well of Your own.
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Give me strength to honor you in trials and to resist temptation. Put a guard at the door of my mouth. Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight.
“For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.”
This life and its suffering is brief. Help me take the long view, to keep my eyes on you, eternity ever before me, and to be wise — a winner of souls.
How good it is to remind ourselves of these truths, to put the Lord’s prayer in our own mouths and respond spontaneously to it with praise, petition, declaration of our dependency on God, and a yielding of our own lives to the plans and purposes of God on this earth!
If you try this model for personalizing prayer, please feel free to share how it went in the comments.