Our Father (“Riffing” on the Lord’s Prayer)

A specific example Tim Keller passes on in Prayer of how to transition from reading and meditating on the Word to free-form praying comes from Martin Luther, who

…suggests that after meditating on the Scripture, you should pray through each petition of the Lord’s Prayer, paraphrasing and personalizing each one using your own needs and concerns.
-from Prayer p. 93

Keller uses the phrase “Spiritually ‘Riffing’ on the Lord’s Prayer” (which might be my favorite phrase of his ever, for various reasons haha) to describe the process. He suggests that this is a beneficial way to both provide structure to your initial prayers to help focus flighty minds like mine. To be very honest, distracting thoughts have often keep me from beginning or completing times I’ve set aside for prayer and have discouraged me in past pursuits of deeper prayer.

As such, I’ve found this to be an immensely helpful tool to add to my “spiritual tool belt” as it were-and it’s so simple! Who among us doesn’t already know at least most of some version (ESV, KJV, NIV, or a combination) of the Lord’s Prayer by heart? [Incidentally, this is an excellent example of the power memorization of the Word has to impact the other spiritual disciplines.] And who among us couldn’t benefit from implementing the model Jesus gave his disciples in answer to their request to teach them to pray?

Now neither Keller nor Luther (nor I!) are suggesting that this is something you must do every time you pray. To turn this into a law or requirement or “the” way to pray is to miss the point. Instead, it’s offered as a helpful tool. May we avail ourselves of it and other similar tools in our daily prayers.

Bonus Content:

Hillsong Worship’s latest cd has a song based on the Lord’s Prayer. There are plenty of other songs based on it, but I enjoyed listening to this one and thought I’d share it 🙂

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5 thoughts on “Our Father (“Riffing” on the Lord’s Prayer)

  1. passion4grace February 10, 2015 / 7:20 am

    Question for you Josh: Do you find this tool helpful as something to go through a part from spending time in His word? For example, you mentioned “time set a part for prayer.” Is this a time that is separate from your quiet time. I have found that I am not able to pray as deeply as I would like to when I tag it at the end of my time in the word. Unless I have a lot of time on my hands.

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    • misterjoshuaray February 10, 2015 / 8:55 am

      Great question, Laura! Keller specifically suggests the practice as a portion of your daily meditation on the Word. Prayer begins with the Scriptures and ends with our specific requests and this method is a way of bridging those two types of prayer. Towards the end of the book he addresses the problem of “tagging it at the end of our time in the word” and problems with “quiet times” in general and his thoughts were so helpful to me (as someone so deeply impacted by the campus ministry/Navs movement) that I’ve meant to blog about it and share some. Hopefully I’ll do that soon 🙂

      Keller’s suggestion is to have two times of prayer daily-morning and evening. Of course he would say that to pray more than that is good too, but twice daily is achievable, repeatable, and better than just slapping some prayer on the end of time in the Word.

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      • passion4grace February 10, 2015 / 11:51 am

        Thanks! I’ve been wanting to read this book. Sounds really good. I look forward to your post about quiet times.

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