Reflections on the Lord's prayer and the structure it gives our prayer lives

Lent is a time of fasting and prayer, so we are delving into the wisdom, framing, and words of the Lord’s prayer to see what it teaches us as we reflect and refocus on God in the lead up to Easter.

Written by Fred Drummond, our director of Scotland and of prayer.

Days 1 – 5: Introduction

Lord, teach us to pray.” (Luke 11:1)

This is a plea that fills every Christian’s heart from time to time. From the new believer, grappling with excitement, love, and confusion, trying to find a way to communicate, to the believer who has found themselves in a place of danger and doubt. 

At times all of us yearn to go deeper, to find greater intimacy and understanding with God. We long to get the clarity and understanding, peace and presence that Jesus can bring. 

Twice Jesus shows the disciples how to pray. Both in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. While they are slightly different (Luke’s version is shorter), the aim of Jesus is to give us (His followers) a framework and a foundation upon which to deepen our prayer lives. 

Christians have used words from the gospels as prayers to be said and cherished for centuries, and this can be seen clearly in the Lord’s prayer. Yet while the Lord’s prayer is a wonderful blessing, it is the framework with themes highlighted, that are the key to building and maintaining a Jesus-centred prayer life.

Like a master builder, Jesus puts together the perfect scaffolding for a life of intimacy, faith, and radical living. The first planks are built around the believers’ relationship with God defined by our identity, our submission and reliance. The last pieces are about our relationship with others and with creation. Put together, they point us to life with God and life for God. 

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Days 6 – 10: Identity

Our Father who is in Heaven.”

Perhaps the biggest and most common questions that are asked in our society are around identity. 

  • Where do I fit?
  • What is my purpose?
  • What am I worth?

Right at the start of Jesus’ prayer He reminds us of two things. Firstly, that God is our Father. The Bible tells us that once we were strangers at a distance from God but have now been brought into relationship with Him through the work of Jesus. God is our Father, but more than that, He is our Daddy; The One who looks out for us, supports us and showers love upon us. Our identity is found in whose family we belong to.

The second thing is that we have a family. Notice Jesus doesn’t say My Father who is in Heaven”, but our Father”. As God’s people we begin from the starting point of community. We have the same Father, and our spirituality and prayer begins from knowing we are loved by our Father God, and we belong in a common community of love.

Days 11 – 15: Wonder and revelation

Hallowed be your name.”

God is amazing. Our Heavenly Dad is holy, sovereign, worthy of all praise. We can never have too high a picture of who God is. As much as a deepening prayer life is built upon what God has done for us in our relationship with Him, it is also based upon wonder at how great God is. 

In the Old Testament book of Exodus, Moses asks God what His name is. The reply comes, I am who I am” essentially telling Moses that there is not a name that fully describes who God is. 

While there is no language to fully reflect the greatness of God, the more we pray and spend time in the presence of God the more we appreciate how worthy of praise God is. There is no one like our God and we are called with hearts full of adoration to praise Him simply because He is worthy to be praised.

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Days 16 – 20: Submission

Your kingdom come, Your will be done.”

The hardest thing in a life of faith is to let go and leave it to God. There is always a battle between the road I want to travel and the one that God has for me. It would be much easier for me if the line in the prayer was, My kingdom come, my will be done”. Often I would just like God to bless my great ideas and plans. However, when Jesus said that anyone who was going to follow Him had to take up their own cross, He was pointing to the way of submission, of laying down all my plans and ambitions to do whatever God has in store for me.

To grow in intimacy with God is to be honest with Him. To share, to listen and ultimately to let go. As we learn to submit, we see that God wants the best for us. His plan is for us to flourish, and even when we do go our own way God is forgiving and gracious.

Days 21 – 25: Transformation

On earth as it is in Heaven.”

These are some of the most radical words in the Bible which encourage us to pray and work for social and spiritual transformation. We live in a world of despair, destruction, violence and hopelessness. However, that is not God’s heart for the world. His desire is for the world to become heaven-like in terms of the rule of God.

What is Heaven like? In the last book of the Bible, Revelation, we get a glimpse into what Heaven will be like. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

This passage tells us that the full suite of injustice, suffering and pain has exited the stage and has been replaced by hope, love, and the gracious presence of God. While we will not see that fully in our lives, we pray and work, live and strive for the will of God to be felt on earth as it is in Heaven.

Our prayer lives deepen as we think, feel, and act in ways that bring justice hope and mercy. We give voice in our prayers to those who have no voice. We cry out for the marginalised and broken, asking God to come as King and bring transformation.

Days 26 – 30: Dependency

Give us this day our daily bread.”

We started this journey with our identity in God and His glory. We then explored submitting to His will and living for the kingdom rule of God. Now we head into daily discipleship and trust.

Do we believe that God is able to provide for us? In the Old Testament, after God had led the people out of Egypt, God provided for them. He gave them food every day called manna (Exodus 16). Four times in the early part of the chapter a whole community is together, and each time God gave enough for everyone. 

God is the God who provides enough for His people. It is right that we bring our physical needs before the Lord, trusting that He will provide. We don’t take for granted that these needs will be provided for, but in humility we come and bring our needs to the Lord.

While we pray for this individually and corporately, I believe that the stress on our” highlights the emphasis on the community of faith. We have an important role in sharing what the Lord is giving us. Sometimes God will use us to be the answer to our own prayers.

Days 31 – 35: Demonstration 

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”

We are not perfect. The Christian community is made up of a bunch of saved sinners, who still stumble, fall and struggle in this world of challenges and temptation. However, the wonder is that there is forgiveness through the work that Jesus has done. Through Jesus there is cleansing. That is the amazing news. Our sins and failures are not held against us when we open our hearts to the forgiveness that God gives us.

However, knowing that we are a forgiven people, who still need forgiveness should have an impact upon how we view and treat others. Out of the reservoir of forgiveness we have found we must have a heart that is quick to forgive others.

If our hearts are not open to forgive others, then how can our hearts be open to receive forgiveness?

Living a life of forgiveness, not holding onto the wrongs done to us is tough. We can’t do it on our own strength; we need the help of the Holy Spirit. So, we pray daily to forgive, to move on and to live in a place of freedom and forgiveness in Christ.

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Days 36 – 40: Protection

Lead us not into temptation.”

We are becoming more like Jesus, and as we spend time in His presence, the Holy Spirit is transforming us. We are being changed by God, and many of the things that were important to us, we no longer think about.

However, we all have areas that need extra work. Parts of our lives that are prone to temptations, places in which we know weakness exists, and without help we will continually fail to resist that which could corrupt us. These areas are different in all of us. We stumble, and we say we will never do that again. We are tempted and we sin, we seek forgiveness and find new strength. Then the same temptation comes, perhaps in a different form, and we prioritise satisfaction over faith, deluding ourselves into thinking it won’t matter, but it does.

Nobody gets it right all the time, only one person is perfect, and His name is Jesus. So daily, as we grow in closeness to the Lord, we say help us. Keep us away from our danger zones. Help us to see the temptations and keep us from them. Jesus was tempted but was without sin. We know that we are not there yet and so we pray, Lead us not into temptation”, Holy Spirit keep us from the places where we may fail.

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Easter: Victory

Deliver us from the evil one.”

Jesus is the victor. Through His death, resurrection, and ascension He is Lord of all. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. While we don’t see the fulness of His victory all around us yet, His kingdom is advancing.

I hope that gets you excited.

As we spend time with Jesus, drawing closer to Him, we see that He can do immeasurably more than we can imagine.

As we seek to live for Jesus, we will find opposition and challenge. People will misunderstand us and sometimes life will be agonisingly tough. Our resources will be depleting and we won’t know how to move forward, but we are the children of the King, and all the resources of the victor, Jesus are with us. So, on our knees, in faith we cry, Deliver us God, give us the victory in you. Help us to stand knowing that your love is enough”.

Deliver us from evil and from the evil one, remind us of your victory and that you have us in your hand.


The Lord’s prayer is more than just a set of words to be repeated. It is a guide to the areas that lead to spiritual depth and growth as a follower of Jesus. I believe that if we embed the areas Jesus highlights into our own lives, we will see real spiritual change and development. He loves us and longs for us to go deeper. This is the time, whether you are a new believer or one who has travelled for a long time, get closer to the King.

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