This morning I went to my knees again over a situation that I don’t have the ability to change. It’s important and present, and as deadlines approach and I turn again to the Lord in prayer, it is with much less anxiety than I have before. For months I have had prayers answered one after another, as if the Lord is clarifying that I do not do anything, but that He can do all things.
I don’t struggle with prayer anymore. A few years ago I wrote about a prayer miracle that happened right before our eyes, and how even though I’ve had a life of praying miracles, sometimes I was the biggest impediment to my own belief, because I forgot to expect them. I’ve written about miracles I’ve prayed for and received and ones I prayed for and didn’t receive, and the more important miracle that was there. This morning I published an article on prayer and why we don’t feel comfortable going to the Lord for institutional change – a miracle that doesn’t seem so very miraculous to us.
I believe in prayer, and I believe in miracles.
This morning I realized that we are not meant to live in fear (stress) – ever. When Jesus said the following, He meant it literally:
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Prayer is not meant to be an anxious endeavor, entered into when we are desperate and filled with trepidation and a sense that our pleas are not meaningful to the Lord. It is meant to clear us of our anxieties, to release us from our stress, to give us the gift of the Comforter, to enlighten our minds and enlarge our views. We are meant to have peace and good cheer, because He has overcome the world. Our job is to believe it and prayer is the tool.
Circumstances that bring us repeatedly to those prayers, that require us to go back daily for needs that continue to present themselves, are a gift meant to awaken us to the power of regular prayer as a relationship with God, and thereby to gift us with the capacity to develop mighty faith that makes us one with God.
We have to be inadequate, to need Him, before this whole process can even begin.
The Lord’s Prayer teaches us how to pray – we’ve been told this since we were children – but it teaches adults how to think and feel while they pray, because this spirit comes naturally to children and it is adults who need reminded. This morning I walked back through the Lord’s Prayer and was reminded how succinct and perfect it is as a roadmap to communication with heaven.
Our Father, who art in Heaven.
We address our God as our Father who happens to be in Heaven, realigning us to his power source/throne there from which He directs all for everyone’s good. We are not addressing our fairy godmother who gives us whatever we want and whose only purpose is to hear our Santa list. We are talking to They who gave us birth, who love us fiercely, and whose greatest joy is our development. We usually come to the prayer because we want something – it’s human nature. With this address, we stop ourselves and rethink, just as we would if we were fondly greeting treasured parents, with a different kind of respect and conversation.
Hallowed be thy name.
This is such a quieting thing to say and to feel. He is holy. Just saying it calms us and strips away the worry of day-to-day living. We come back home for a moment, in our Parents’ presence, and we remember at the same time that we are in a place of great holiness, a presence so holy that we had to leave it to live as we are now. Just to speak to them, we must brush away the mortality that clings to us and have a moment of transfiguration. This is to stand in holy places – to be temporarily but repeatedly transfigured as we hallow God in our hearts.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Realigning with his plan here, we acknowledge that we are part of bigger things, that we wish to acquiesce to that will, and that we acknowledge that we fall short of the angels, who leap to do his will. This is empowering in a way that we don’t normally consider, because in aligning with God, we become one with Him, and adopt to ourselves His power because we are on His errand. Nothing can overcome us if God is with us, and we realize this as we align our will to His.
Give us this day our daily bread.
We do have needs – daily, straightforward, simple mortal needs – of survival. We need a home. We need food. We need to be warm, healthy, safe, loved, and needed. We need very little beyond that to continue to do His will, but we do need that. He will care for us and provide food and shelter just as He does for the sparrow and the lily. We ask as children for that which we need, expecting to receive because we know He loves us. In the very asking we are connected to those who may be suffering without those things, and our eyes are focused, as are our Parents’, on protecting the vulnerable around us.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
We acknowledge that the work of this life is repenting and forgiving, and we will use that which we’ve been given to do that work. We are taking stock of our opportunities to act: to come to God, having considered our misalignment with Him, and ask for His forgiveness. That’s not an emotionless conversation. There is great power in it, especially when we add to it the meekness of treating others benevolently. The two are so intricately interwoven – that which we ask for ourselves bound up in that which we are willing to give – both nourishing our own souls as surely as does daily bread.
Lead us not into temptation.
Don’t allow us to be led into temptation. We are so weak and so liable to falling. Hedge up our way by giving us a straight and narrow path, one that is safe from attack and that leads us carefully to the next city. Help us resist. Open our eyes. Warn us and help us hear. Never leave us. We don’t ever want to walk alone. The mere plea focuses us on our greatest danger – not that we might go without something but that we might help ourselves to something that will destroy us. This pleading lays aside our self-sufficiency and our independence and asks for counsel and correction. How many adults do that? What great steps forward could we take if we did?
Deliver us from evil.
Hope springs from the statement, the hope of a child that our parents will save us. We realize that the only force that threatens us is evil. Of a sudden our prayer and plea for help, whatever it is, is realigned from a mortal threat to an eternal one. And we remember. He has always delivered us. In the realization, answers often begin to form to our earlier pleas. Something about realizing the grace of God in our past focuses our vision on the grace offered now. We know better what it is we should be praying for.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.
For the saved saint, the focus is outward. The kingdom is meant to bless the lives of all who would seek shelter there. That is where real power is: the source of all power in God, and the place where all power is grown and exercised as we turn to one another. The glory to which we aspire is to be wrapped in God’s love of all Their children. By the time we have reached this point in the prayer, we are on a different plane, having stripped away anxiety and allowed our vision to expand. It is a true order of prayer, a prayer that touches on every issue we face in mortality and addresses it according to the understanding of God for the benefit of all those we could ever conceivably touch.
We are finished. All that has been said is enough. We do not return to our former anxieties, nor do we forget what we have learned. We leave this prayer absorbing the comforting presence of our Parents and take that peace and foresight with us back to our work and our service and our mortality.
If we prayed this way, we would have peace.
We would have revelation. We would have miracles. All of the major issues in our lives would be addressed and we would walk with confidence and power. Every gift of the spirit with which we’ve been blessed would flower as our capacity increased. While the circumstances of our lives (usually the things we’re praying to have altered) would change according to the Lord’s will and in the Lord’s time, we would more importantly have become that much more like the brother of Jared, or Enoch, or Elijah, or Nephi or Alma or Joseph, or any of the many who have had their calling and election made sure: we would be trustworthy with the power of God. We become worthy to have circumstances change according to our will because we have spent our lives disciplining our will to Theirs – our will is indistinguishable from Theirs.
Our calling and election is made sure on the wings of patient, persistent prayer. Wrestling as Jacob with the Lord, perhaps, but patient and persistent.
Oh that I were an angel, and could have the wish of my heart: everyone would understand the power of prayer.