“Lord, teach us to pray.” – Luke 11:1 (NIV)
I grew up at a time when small, family-owned grocery stores perched on just about every corner in every neighborhood. My mother would call in her list, and they’d gather the items, pack them up in boxes, and deliver them by the end of the day. The stores extended credit, so when Dad got paid, they got paid.
I’m reminiscing those old grocery store days because I’ve been pondering prayer and our perspective of it.
Too often we approach prayer like writing up a grocery list and phoning it in to God, expecting Him to box up what we need and deliver it pronto.
It doesn’t work that way.
Like the disciples, we need to ask the Lord to teach us to pray.
So let’s look at Jesus’ response. “The Lord’s Prayer” is simple, but it contains all we need on our grocery list to the Heavenly storehouse.
Second on the list is SUBMISSION. “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Submit to His will for you and surrender what you think you want. Father does know best. Too often we want what we want and nothing else, and get mad at God when we don’t get it. “This wasn’t on my list,” we complain. “This isn’t the brand I ordered.” Submit to His best for you.
Third on the list is TRUST. “Give us this day our daily bread.” This isn’t a request only for food to sustain us physically. We also need bread for our minds, hearts, and spirits. And notice the words “this day.” Too often our lists contain more than what we need for one day. We feel better when we see caches stashed away for tomorrow (and tomorrow and tomorrow)—it’s much easier than trusting God (whom we can’t see) for today’s needs.
Fourth on the list is FORGIVENESS. “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” I prefer the word “trespasses” rather than “debts,” but both convey the same meaning: If you want to be forgiven, you’ve got to forgive others who have hurt you. And we all need to forgive and be forgiven.
The final item on the list is DELIVERANCE. “And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” God, being holy, will never lead us to do wrong. That’s our choice. I like the way the NIV Study Bible explains this verse: “Do not lead us into trials so deep that they would tempt us to be unfaithful to you. God does not tempt (in the sense of enticing us to sin).” Rather, we ask God to deliver us from the evil that surrounds us, so it won’t it affect us, inside or out.
Honor. Submission. Trust. Forgiveness. Deliverance.
And, remember, you have all the credit you need—Jesus' signature, written in His blood, is already on the check.
What’s on your grocery list?
Father, remind me to keep my prayers simple. Amen.
More tea: Read Matthew 6:5–13