The Whole Prayer in Practical Use
The great sweep of human history or the details of one person or situation:
In the life of a stately home, the business of the whole house can be directed to the general well-being of the whole estate or it can, on occasion, be focused on a single event or person. From time to time there will be activity in every room in preparation for a great occasion, an important meeting, or a family wedding or celebration. On another occasion the whole household will be going about their ordinary business but with a particularly hushed and concerned note for one member of the household who lies very ill.As it is with a great house, so it is with the Lord’s Prayer. For example:
We can pray each petition generally as we pray for the world and its leaders, and for all God’s people as, together, we strive to live for him in this spiritually hostile world.On another occasion we might first bring a whole series of concerns in our prayers and then ‘gather’ them as we pray the Lord’s Prayer. Or, following a prayer of confession, the Lord’s Prayer can be a response of faith and a plea for grace and courage to start afresh to live in a way that pleases our heavenly Father.
Finally, we can cry to God for a particular person or situation using and applying each of the petitions in turn. The whole prayer can be focused and brought to bear, for example, on a particular meeting, or on a particular person in physical or spiritual need or on particular members of our own family.
As an example of this last and, perhaps, less usual use of the prayer, praying for a son or daughter of the house approaching marriage, we might follow each petition of the Lord’s Prayer and pray:
‘Father we place into your hands this couple as they approach marriage.
May your name be honoured on their wedding day in all that is said and done in the service and at the meal following. May your name be honoured, too, in their relationship with one another as they prepare for marriage and as they build a home together.
May your kingdom come, may they, together, submit to your holy rule and live in a way that pleases you. May your will be done in every detail of the great day and in each decision of the months and years that lie ahead. May there be a touch of heaven about this marriage.
Give them day by day godly wisdom, peace and prosperity that they may live without anxiety before you.
Grant them each a forgiving spirit towards one another, that as they adjust and settle to married life, they may be forgiving – as they have been forgiven.
Grant them grace to withstand the particular temptations that will come to them, and from would-be suitors who would break the marriage. Finally, Father, we ask you to protect them from every kind of evil; evil from within and evil from without, and from every onslaught of the evil one.
May your holy name be held high in this marriage, Sovereign Lord, King of Kings.’
Or, approaching a Christian meeting we might pray:
‘Father, may your name be held high, honoured in our music and teaching and in all that takes place. By your Holy Spirit, take the speaker’s words and set our hearts ablaze for you, may lives be changed, may your kingdom come.
Father, we commend to you all the practical arrangements; our individual tasks and our working together.
May your will be done in every detail. May there be a touch of heaven about this meeting.’
. . . and so on, until we pray. . . ‘And Father keep us safe, tonight, from any who would disrupt and spoil the meeting, and from the spiritual coldness, deadness, attacks and interference of the evil one.
Would to God that our national and local elections, great parliamentary debates, council, governor and board meetings, synods, church meetings and individual opportunities to speak for the Lord were covered and supported by prayers like these . . . prayers after our Lord’s pattern; prayers that we can be confident he will hear. We make up our own prayers after the ‘God bless . . .’ pattern, or read set prayers, but, to our great loss, we neglect this great pattern prayer of the Lord.
- Sometimes we will bring a whole series of concerns in our prayers and then ‘gather’ them as we pray the Lord’s Prayer. Are you happy to use it in this way?
- Sometimes the Lord’s Prayer will be a fitting response of faith and determination after a prayer of confession. Are you comfortable with that?
- Sometimes it will be focused on a single issue. For example, suggest how each petition in turn, i.e. the whole of the Lord’s Prayer, could be relevantly applied to one, or a selection of the following situations:
- When praying for parliament and our political leaders.
- When praying for our national or our local church.
- When praying for a known missionary.
- When praying for a known person in need or sickness.
2. The Local Church
The heart of an address given at St Andrew’s Church Norwich and St Andrew’s Church Eaton (19.05 mins)
3. A prayer for U.S. President, Joe Biden
Whether you like the swing in the outcome election caused by the postal votes or not, the apostle Paul urges us to pray for those in authority, so, following the pattern of the Lord’s Prayer, which as a devout Catholic Joe Biden would know very well . . .
Heavenly Father we pray for Joe Biden as he and his team begin to settle into office,
- That you would cause your holy name to be honoured through his public speaking, writing, interviews with the media and through his whole approach and manner of life.
- That in his time as U.S. President you would cause your kingdom and your people to flourish and evil to be restrained.
- That in and through all the difficult decisions needed in a divided world, with its warring parties and subtle political intrigues, your will might be sincerely sought and done.
- That there might be a touch of heaven about President Biden’s leadership and presidency.
- That you would give him clarity of insight and godly wisdom, courage and stamina, wise advisors and ears to hear them, true Christian fellowship and all that he needs day by day to serve you single-heartedly without anxiety or fear.
- That he might increasingly discover your wonderful forgiveness and mercy, and reflect that godly mercy and forgiveness in his dealings with those around him and toward those for whom he is responsible.
- That you would watch over him and guard him and his team through all the subtle and great temptations of high public office.
- That you would spare him – and the free world – from evil and enable him to stand fast against the onslaughts of the evil one.
For these things we plead, recognising that you raise up or put down whom you will and that ultimately, the kingdom, the power and all glory belong to you alone. Amen
4. Prince William and Kate
Following the pattern of the prayer our Lord taught us, we can pray for a particular person or situation using and applying each of the petitions in turn. The whole prayer can be focused and brought to bear, for example, on a particular person in physical or spiritual need or on particular members of a family.
We wish them well and congratulate them on the birth of Princess Charlotte, so let us pray for the Lord God’s continued blessing on Prince William and Kate as they build their family.
‘Father we place into your hands William and Kate and their marriage.
Thank you that your holy name was held high, hallowed on their wedding day. Cause your name be honoured, too, in their relationship with one another as they continue to build their family home together.
May your kingdom come; may they, together, submit to your holy rule and live in a way that pleases you.
Cause your will be done in each decision of the months and years that lie ahead. May there be a touch of heaven about this marriage.
Give them day by day godly wisdom, peace and safety that they may live without anxiety before you.
Lord, have mercy on them and grant them each a forgiving spirit towards one another as they train up the young Prince George and adjust to the arrival of the new and demanding ‘game-changer’; Princess Charlotte.
Grant them grace to withstand the particular temptations that come with wealth and position, and from would-be suitors who would break the marriage.
Finally, Father, at work and in the family home we ask you to protect them from every kind of evil; evil from within and evil from without, and from every onslaught of the evil one.
Cause your holy name be held high in this marriage, Sovereign Lord, King of Kings.’