At some point in your gathering spend a moment taking communion together, whether as a full meal together or some version of the bread and the cup. If you don’t have a plan already, you can have someone read the following passage we’ve provided below and spend a moment in silence before continuing:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
Yours is the Kingdom and the power
and the glory forever. Amen
When Jesus was on earth, he taught his disciples to pray the well-known and ancient prayer we have come to call “The Lord’s Prayer” or the “Our Father.” When Jesus taught his disciples about prayer, he didn’t tell them to pray more or to pray harder, but to pray differently. In doing so, he was showing them how to pray and offering them a model to follow in their own prayers.
During these next two weeks, we will be making our way through the Lord’s Prayer together. Jesus starts it out this way: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” Simply understood, Jesus is teaching us to begin our prayers by remembering who we’re talking to. God is not a far off, distant Being in the sky. Instead, Jesus uses the word Father, which is meant to call our mind back to the physical and relational nearness of God to Adam and Eve in the Garden. He is asking us to remember that God is good and God is close.
When we remember how close and good God is to us, our only natural response is praise, which is why Jesus’ next line was, “Hallowed be your name.” Powerful prayer is born out of adoration. And as we learn throughout the rest of the New Testament, while hallowing God’s name is easy to do when you feel like it or when things are going well, it is most important and formative to do when it’s a choice—to pray defiantly when you are facing pain that feels impossible or a circumstance that feel inescapable.
- Is it difficult for you to pray prayers of adoration to God? If so, what are some of your barriers?
- Where in your life do you need to pray “in defiance,” or to pray in a way that doesn’t match your current circumstance? Perhaps it feels like an impossible prayer for a loved one, a place of pain or suffering in your life, a situation at work, or something else entirely.
- What do you think might change in your thinking, faith, and/or experience of God’s presence if you prayed in adoration of God and in defiance of your circumstance?
Practice for Tonight
Tonight we want to take some time to pray together the way Jesus invited us to. We will work through three movements: remembering who God is, remembering who we are, and remembering who we are to each other.
To begin, have everyone get comfortable and begin by welcoming the Spirit and spend a few moments in silence together. Proceed when you’re ready by reading each section out loud and then doing each in turn together.
Remember Who God Is: Our Father — For the first movement, we want to focus on who God is, remembering that Jesus began his prayer by calling God “our Father.” Spend some time praying together by having people spontaneously name who God is. This could sound like “God, thank you that you are our Defender.” or “Father, thank you that you are Healer.” or something about God as Creator, Father, Provider, Teacher, Redeemer, Savior, etc. As each person prays, invite the Spirit to show you what it means that God is each of these things. Reflect on the personal nature of each name and thank him for that.
Remember Who We Are: Beloved — Throughout the Scriptures, God calls us Beloved. He renames us according to our true identity, and not what we do or don’t do. For this next movement, read each of these verses aloud one at a time, pausing after each to let them sink in. If there is someone who feels comfortable sharing that they have a hard time receiving the promise one of the passages holds, your Community may want to pray for them and ask God to reveal their belovedness in a new way.
- Colossians 1v13-14: “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
- Romans 8v1: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”
- Ephesians 3v12: “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”
- 2 Timothy 1v7: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-control.”
Remember Who We Are To Each Other: Sisters & Brothers — All through the Scriptures, followers of Jesus are referred to as sisters and brothers. We’re family. So for the third and final movement of the night, spend some time being open to people sharing their impossible prayers. Where do each of us need help praying in defiance adoration? As people are comfortable to share, bear their burden with them in prayer. Have someone ask God on behalf of each person who shares. Alternatively, if this process has stirred up faith in someone, and they feel compelled, invite people to share something that they believe about God, as a way of building up the faith of others in the room.
When your time is done, close in prayer, asking God to continue to remind you all who he is, who we are, and who we are to each other.
Practice for the Week Ahead
For the week ahead, there are a few options.
1. Remember Again — Maybe the Practice you did tonight was really helpful for some people and they want to repeat it. Simply follow the prompts again, changing them as you need and feel led.
2. Pray Scripture — Sometimes it is really helpful to pray another person’s words when you don’t know where to start, especially when you’re praying prayers of defiant adoration. Use Jesus’ prayer in Matthew 6v9-13 as a template to begin your own conversation with God. Or, perhaps use one of David’s Psalms (like Psalm 139) to start talking with God.
3. Look At Jesus — Sometimes we can get so lost in our circumstances and what we think we should be doing or praying or feeling that our connection in prayer feels somewhat fuzzy. Whether your find an artistic rendering of Jesus online or you simply imagine him, spend some time looking at him and spend some time remembering who he is, what first drew you to him, and what he might say to you were he physically with you.
Close in Prayer
Before you end your time together, pray, asking the Spirit of God to fill and empower you to pray as you can. Take some time to pray for other prayer requests as they come up.