Tool #6 invites us to learn a wonderful way to pray, which is not the same as learning a wonderful prayer. Learning a way to pray helps our prayer life to stay fresh and conversational.
Jesus’ disciples recognized that the way he related to God was radically different from what they were familiar with. So they asked him; “Teach us to pray.” We know his response as “The Lord’s Prayer” and it is recorded in two different versions. One is in the Gospel of Luke and a longer version is in Matthew.
While it is beneficial to memorize and recite The Lord’s Prayer, it can also be an amazing tool for our spiritual life when used as a pattern for prayer rather than as a script. The Hexagon icon above represents six themes for prayer found in The Lord’s Prayer:
The Father’s Character. Jesus encourages us to address God as “abba,” a term of intimacy similar to “daddy” or “papa” in English. Our prayers begin as we turn to our loving God as children turning to a loving parent.
The Father’s Kingdom. God’s intention for the world is life, love, joy, meaning, purpose and beauty for everyone and everything. This is what is meant by “Kingdom come.”
Provision. Loving parents provide for all their children’s needs, so we look to God for our “daily bread.”
Forgiveness. We damage our relationships with each other and with God, so we seek their repair with the forgiveness that flows to us from God and through us to others.
Guidance. God is active in our lives, giving direction and leading us towards the things that give life – to us and to others - and away from the things that don’t.
Protection. Evil is a reality and there are forces and powers in the world stronger than us. We look to God for protection.
With these themes in mind, The Lord’s Prayer becomes a way of praying that we can learn and teach. For example, suppose a friend is having a personal crisis. Here is how our concern might be shaped in prayer through each theme. Character: remembering that our friend is also a child of God and that their life matters to the Father. Kingdom: envisioning the kind of life we know the Father wants for our friend. Provision: knowing that God is already at work to provide for our friend in their need and that we may be a part of how God’s provision will be delivered. Forgiveness: for ourselves if we have been neglecting our friend’s needs; for others who may have hurt our friend; and for ways our friend may have created or complicated their own crisis. Guidance: listening for specific instructions from God on what to do for our friend. Protection: remembering that we and our friend may encounter things we can’t manage on our own in this situation, but trusting God to watch over us.
The Hexagon themes can also be used to guide us in reviewing our life to see where God may be asking us to direct our attention. Like a medical checkup where we routinely look at blood pressure, heart rate and temperature, each theme is an area or aspect of life we can look at. Where we’re healthy we can give thanks to the Father. Where something’s amiss, we can explore what needs to be done.