Some things are so obvious it takes me years to see them.
I’ve prayed the Lord’s Prayer all my life, but only recently when someone pointed out something about the prayer, something I’ve probably heard a million times before, did it really hit me and make a difference to my prayer life.
It’s all in the first-person plural. “Our Father… give us this day our daily bread… forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us… lead us not into temptation.” It’s as though Jesus was reminding the disciples and us that you really can’t pray for yourself by yourself without somehow praying for others. Or put it another way: When you pray for yourself, you’re also mystically involving everyone else who has needs. We’re all in this together.
So what should this mean to my prayer life—or our prayer life? (Not for nothing do we call our prayer ministry at Guideposts OurPrayer.) When I get stuck and too wrapped up in my own concerns, which I must tell you happens quite frequently, I remember or am reminded of someone else who needs help, someone who needs it in fact even more desperately than I do.
I heard myself recently say at a retreat that it’s a measure of my mental health as well as spiritual health: the more I’m praying for others, the better off I am. In fact, when I was working on my book 10 Prayers You Can’t Live Without, I found myself putting it this way: “When you’re not sure what to pray or how to pray, say a prayer for someone else.” All those people who need prayers, what a favor they’re doing for us, enhancing our lives as we do our best to reach out to help them. “I’ll keep you in my prayers,” is one of the loveliest things you can say to yourself and anyone.
“Our Father… give us this day our daily bread… forgive us our sins…” I’m sure it’s obvious to you, but it’s taken me decades to figure this out. Hey, give me another few decades and I might have another epiphany. For now, I’m working on this one.
Got a prayer that needs to be answered? Tell me what it is. I want to pray for you. For me. For all of us together.