Years ago, in a season of great personal need, I longed for renewal in my prayer life. What I found was exactly what many have discovered: When prayer is most needed, words are the hardest to find. How to start? What to say? What is even OK to ask for? I was stressed, afraid and less capable of effectual fervent prayer than I should have been.
In desperation, I turned to the Lord's Prayer—and a bit later, Psalm 23—and began a journey into its healing, restoring power. I have received blessings and healing in a 21-second prayer taught 2,000 years ago by a Jewish rabbi. I did not so much take hold of the Lord's Prayer as it took hold of me—and it has never let me go. I pray it multiple times daily, often silently in meetings, while driving and even at basketball games. By the way, you can pray the Lord's Prayer before the shot clock runs out!
I have likewise encouraged others to rediscover the Lord's Prayer. Many of them, with emotional wounds that hampered their lives, found inner healing in the Lord's Prayer. It seems to me that the habitual use of the Lord's Prayer, as good as that is, cannot be compared in effect to its healing power. Especially in combination with Psalm 23, the grace to forgive and to be forgiven—what King David called soul restoration—is exactly what so many long for in their lives. I have seen so many utterly amazed to find it was there all the time, right there in the Lord's Prayer.
Others were not so much hurting as they were stagnant in their prayer lives. What they all had in common was a need for a practical way to start fresh, and many found it in the Lord's Prayer. Some had jettisoned the Lord's Prayer because of unrewarding liturgical worship during which they heard bored congregations drone through it in bovine enthusiasm. Others attend charismatic churches where the prayer is not despised but ignored.
Those of us in the ministry cherish the hope that our people pray more than they do, whoever "they" are. In real life, many in every church long for a more effective prayer life. Many read about the prayers of David Brainerd and E.M. Bounds, but instead of being inspired, they are intimidated and paralyzed. They want a doorway into prayer that will work for them right now, right where they are, that will change their world and the world of those around them. They want a prayer that is concise, comprehensive and doable, even if you're not E.M. Bounds.
I talked with a group of husbands who agreed on one thing; they were uncomfortable praying aloud with their wives.
"She's the prayer warrior at our house," one man said. "I stumble around and feel stupid in prayer whenever she's listening." His confession got more amens than most of my sermons.
"What if you knew what to pray every time and you never had to think of what to say? How would you like that?" I asked. They wanted that—unanimously. When I suggested the Lord's Prayer, its many uses and its power as a family prayer, they absolutely loved it.
"Why didn't I think of this before?" one man asked. A good question. Why didn't I? Why indeed? Perhaps the Lord's Prayer needs to be used again, sung again, loved again and prayed again.
I am on a crusade to urge churches, pastors, laymen, prayer groups, prison ministries, youth groups and families to declare 2016 The Year of the Lord's Prayer. If you will, register at 21secondsbook.com and enter the code LPP23 for a free digital copy of my sermon series "The Lord's Prayer and Psalm 23."
Why not pray it right this moment, with the magazine in your hand? Join me right now in the prayer Jesus gave us.
"Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.
"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.
"Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those
"Who trespass against us.
"And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
"For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Dr. Mark Rutland is president of Global Servants. A renowned communicator and New York Times best-selling author, he has over 30 years of experience in organizational leadership, having served as a senior pastor and a university president. His new book, 21 Seconds to Change Your World (Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group), is available now at your local bookstore, all major online retailers, 21secondsbook.com and globalservants.org.
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