Are you kidding me? How can I not take the Lord’s Prayer personally? It allows me to communicate directly with my Heavenly Father and has been called the “Perfect Prayer”. Why shouldn’t I take it personally? Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let me explain what I mean. While it’s important (and encouraged) to have a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father, we want to make sure we don’t limit the effectiveness of this powerful prayer by focusing solely on our own personal intentions. Although we should pray for our own needs, we shouldn’t forget the needs of our brothers and sisters located around the world. The Lord’s Prayer provides the perfect opportunity for this type of global outreach. Need some examples?
Our Father Who Art In Heaven – The title says it all. He’s not just “my” Father, but the Father of my co-workers, the person who just cut me off in traffic, the irate customer who just yelled at me on the phone, the criminals whose mug shots appear in the newspaper, the homeless man begging on the street corner and everyone else on the face of the earth. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we speak on behalf of each of these individuals and ask for God’s blessings to be poured out upon them.
Hallowed Be Thy Name – On behalf of the entire human race, Father, I ask that Your name be made holy on earth. May those who ignore You learn to love You. Forgive those who use Your name in vain and allow them to see why this is wrong. Allow the entire world to have a greater appreciation of Your mercy and learn to turn to You in times of trouble.
Thy Kingdom Come – Jesus proclaimed that “the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14). We ask You, Heavenly Father, that this truly takes place in the world. Allow us to see the need for repentance and grant us the grace to turn away from sin. And let Your kingdom spread throughout the world.
Thy Will Be Done, On Earth As It Is In Heaven – In addition to praying that God’s will be done in our own lives, let’s pray that His will be done everywhere in the world. That means no more abortion, crime, pornography, hatred and selfishness. That’s the way it is in Heaven. Let’s pray that it will be this way on earth!
Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread – By praying this one petition on behalf of the entire human race, we are placing our trust in God’s providence. We pray that all of the starving people will obtain food, we pray that all atheists will come to know and love the Lord, we pray that the unemployed will find jobs and we pray that everyone will receive and accept the grace they need to get to Heaven. By concentrating on “this day” (and not tomorrow), we put our faith in God’s providence and follow Jesus’ command to avoid worrying about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34).
Forgive Us Our Trespasses As We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us – If we think beyond our own personal needs, we can ask the Father to forgive the sins of the entire world and request that they be able to practice that forgiveness as well. Can you imagine what the world would be like if that became a reality?
Lead Us Not Into Temptation – Help us to avoid gossip, selfishness, sexual immorality and greed. We are surrounded by temptation and need your help, Lord. Our human weakness makes it impossible to avoid these sins, but with your grace, we can do it.
Deliver Us From Evil – Father, we were created to live forever with you in Heaven, but we sometimes lose sight of that fact and turn away from You. On behalf of all of Your children, please allow us to achieve our salvation and live with You in perfect happiness.
There you have it! By broadening our focus as we pray the Our Father, we can intercede for all of God’s children throughout the world. Many of them don’t even realize that they should be asking the Father for these things, so we can step in and help them out. While the Lord’s Prayer can and should be very personal to us, let’s not limit the Father’s generosity. There is more than enough grace to go around. Let’s share it with the rest of the world!