I sense a greater desperation as we approach this year’s National Day of Prayer on May 4 than I did in years past. Many parts of Tennessee are broken, struggling, mourning, debating and discouraged.
We have been through so much as a people. Our culture is sliding into the abyss of ambiguity. Our world has been rocked by mass shootings, culture wars, violence and a looming sense of mental and emotional illness, especially among the next generation.
James, the brother of Jesus, tells us, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” If you want to pray rightly, a great place and pattern to consider is the most common prayer of believers. We discover an amazing pattern with eight movements.
Movement 1: “Hallowed be thy name.” God is the focus of our prayer. It changes us because we have perspective. You are not God. His name is set apart from all the other names. In an “OMG” world we have forgotten how holy God’s name is.
God said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations” (Exodus 3:14-15).
Most live their lives promoting their own name and tribe. Perhaps that’s why social media produces so much mental illness. When we strive to set ourselves up as worthy of celebration and worship, we edge God out of His rightful place. We promote God’s name because we realize that His is the only name worth promoting.
Movement 2: “Thy Kingdom come.” It’s not “Take me to the Kingdom.” It is “Bring the Kingdom to us.” So many of our hymns and songs focus on the sweet by and by when we all get to heaven on some bright morning when all of life is over.
However, Jesus’ focus in the model prayer is for us to pray for the Kingdom to come to earth, not believers to enter heaven.
Everyday our prayer and focus should be, “How could I make this Tennessee more like the Kingdom?” Let’s be honest. Many of us forget what the Kingdom is like because we have been so focused on surviving the world and getting to Heaven.
Movement 3: Your will be done. Jesus invites our prayers to be immersed in an absolute surrender to His will. It’s a surrender of your will to His.
George McDonald wrote, “Doing the will of God leaves me no time for disputing about His plans.” Our greatest prayer should be “Thy will be done.”
That’s not a cop-out prayer. It’s a transformational prayer, giving God free access to every side ally of your life. We pray for the intention of God. And beware lest you be seen on the wrong side of God’s divine intention.
Movement 4: Give us this day our daily bread. The focus is the present. It’s not on tomorrow’s provision or need. How often have I missed the feast of today while stockpiling fortification for tomorrow. Our ability to pray requires us to stand in the sacred space and focus on the present needs.
Jesus reminds us that tomorrow will have its own trouble. Focus on the needs right here and right now. This also reminds me of the nearly 14 percent of all Tennesseans who live below the poverty line.
Movement 5: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive our trespassers. Life is all about reconciliation. It’s the true communion of our daily walk.
We walk in freedom which ultimately allows us to forgive. Love and forgiveness hold hands throughout eternity. Do we think we can succeed in the journey with bitterness tagging along with us? We as a state must focus on repentance, reconciliation and forgiveness.
Movement 6: Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. From the moment we begin our journey, we are enrolled in spiritual rehab. It’s where we live. Jesus leads the program, and our quest is deliverance.
Everyone you know is in recovery from something. And if they think they are fully recovered, they are a recovering Pharisee.
We Tennesseans, like the nation of Israel, are in need of deliverance.
Movement 7: For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever. We surrender to Him. It’s His kingdom, not ours. It’s His power, not ours. It’s His glory, not ours. This is a leveraging of every single shred of accomplishment, notoriety, achievement and glory over to Him.
Movement 8: Amen “So let it be.” While growing up, I thought “Amen” was Hebrew for “open your eyes. Prayer is over.”
Seriously though, Amen is not a cue, a cheer or a religious way of approving a statement. Amen is dynamic. It is the connective tissue that links us to God. It’s a covenant stamp between God and man. It’s saying, everything that I just talked to You about, I am willing to live, claim and represent today.
Let’s pray together for our nation, our state, our families and our neighbors. B&R