Just a reminder - prayer is not the recitation of magic words. Nor is it a way to "get God to see things our way." Prayer is not bending God to our will, but bending ourselves to His. When we pray, we align our desires with God's priorities, and we submit to Him where those two things differ. And when we petition Him according to His will, we know that He hears us (1 John 5:14).
But how do we know if we're praying according to His will? He has not left us in the dark about that. Though there is no one "right prayer," Jesus taught us tremendous lessons about praying within the will of God when He gave us His model prayer.
The more time I spend allowing the Lord's Prayer to shape my praying, the more convinced I am that there is NO situation in which its guidance is not helpful. So I hope you will join me is praying for Newtown, CT in this manner:
Our Father: Dear Lord, please become a Father in truth to those who don't know You in Newtown. May they come to know you and call you Father and feel Your care as never before.
Who art in Heaven: I thank You, Lord, that You are enthroned in power, and that there is nothing I could ask you that would be too difficult for You. I thank You that Your sovereign control extends even into the incomprehensible.
Hallowed be Your name: Oh Father, there are many who blaspheme You because of this tragedy. Even though this massacre was pure evil, and You are pure light...even though You sent Jesus to save us from sin...even though those who love You and walk with You are growing to love their neighbors and enemies more and more...yet people will blaspheme You when sinners do evil. I pray that You will open blinded eyes, even those dimmed by tears, to see who You really are, and to hallow You from the depths of their souls. Then they will find the peace and the newness that only You can give.
Thy Kingdom come: Oh Father, how we long for this! May Your Kingdom come to Newtown! Your Kingdom is not a place, but a reign in hearts, and it is a reign of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. May Your kingdom be brought there by Your people coming to serve, to weep with those who weep, to pray. And may Your Kingdom spread there as more and more people come to know You.
Thy will be done in Newtown as it is in Heaven: Oh Lord, Your precious, perfect Will is done trustingly, lovingly, loyally, joyfully, obediently in Heaven. Let Your will be done the same way in Newtown, even in the midst of tremendous sorrow. May the beauty of Your Will shine more brightly than ever in that place.
Give Newtown today its daily bread: There is so much to this prayer! Yes, Father, we ask for the provision of daily food, for those who are grieving may not have the strength to prepare it for themselves. May Your people bring material support wherever it is needed. We pray that you will free the grieving from the fear of lacking tomorrow's bread, and that they will instead trust You to provide for tomorrow, too. But You have taught us that our daily bread is so much more than material provision! Jesus said that doing Your Will was His food. He found refreshment in it. And so I pray that You will refresh Your people in Newtown by giving them manageable ways to do Your beautiful Will. And please show Your people outside of Newtown if some part of their daily "work allotment bread" should bring them into Newtown. And finally, Jesus taught us that HE is our bread, our food on which we feast for nourishment. So we pray that each person in Newtown would get a daily supply of Your grace, and that they would recognize it as coming from You.
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors: This one is so hard in Newtown right now! Such forgiveness is impossible without Your forgiving grace. Please God, free them from the prison of bitterness. Show them Your forgiving grace as they most clearly need to see it in these dark days. May those who have never received Your forgiving grace do so now, and be made new in order to be free to forgive others as well.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: Yes, Father, please. There will be such a strong temptation to sin in response to sin! Even outside of Newtown, there will be those who will want to hate. As the mother of two kids on the autism spectrum, I am very worried that hatred will be turned towards them. Father, protect those whom you have created on the "spectrum" from the prejudices of others. Protect them from revenge. And Lord, as hard as it is to comprehend, there will be those who will envy Adam Lanza his notoriety, and will want to follow his example. Protect both us and them from this evil! Protect us, too, from the temptation to live in fear. I have received notifications from both schools that my 3 children attend, detailing the increased police presence, the increased security, the siege mentality that characterizes our godless age. Oh Father, in the name of freedom to sin we have sacrificed true freedom! Help our schools, nationwide, to find the balance between wise precaution and unwise terror. Most of all, may they welcome You back into schools, not as a token nod, but as the Savior who alone can change evil hearts.
For Yours is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. You alone have the power and authority to change all of this. May people realize this and turn to You! Amen!
Because God, in His inscrutable wisdom, has chosen to put treasure in clay pots.
I can't be a superstar, but I can be a pot.
Remember the story of Gideon, and how he and his rag-tag army took on the Midianites? Their lights were hidden in clay pots until the right moment, and then they smashed the pots to let the light shine. God then miraculously routed the enemy before them.
God has given me plenty of good hard whacks in my life, and at times I've felt like he's completely smashed me for good. Maybe one of His purposes for doing that is to let some light out.
I don't have any light of my own, but He is the light, and it's my hope that He'll shine through just a bit on these pages, "that the excellence of the power may be of God, and not of us."