LIVING GRACE: Learning prayer to remember, live by it

Feb. 10—"This, then, is how you should pray: "'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.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:9-15

When I was attending Catholic school in the 2nd grade, we were supposed to memorize what is commonly referred to as "The Lord's Prayer." There were actually several prayers throughout the year that we were to memorize and then on a specific day we were expected to write out the prayer and get a grade. I guess that I was not very good at this sort of assignment and had failed on all previous prayer tests. I knew the day was coming when we would be tested on this prayer so I prewrote it with a couple of deliberate spelling errors so that it would be more believable when I actually passed this test. The day came and I tried to write out the prayer and when I fell short, I pulled out my forgery and made the switch. I turned it in and felt guilty but also relieved. A fellow student later told me that he saw what I did but fortunately he did not turn me in. I received an A on that test. But failed my Savior.

Today I know the prayer and multiple times a day I recite the words focusing in on the fact that Jesus allows me to call God, My Father. I come to Him knowing that He loves me, wants the best for me and will always speak truth in love to me. But sometimes the words that I am reciting are just words. Too much of my life is just going through the motions. I suppose that it is better to go through the motions of prayer rather than not pray. However, that is not what I want. What I actually want is to connect with God, to see Him, to hear Him and to be touched by Him. I don't want my idea of God, I want Him.

It is in this connection where a person is transformed and changed into the likeness of Jesus, His son. I was designed in perfection, but I have been marred by sin and rebellion. I come to Jesus in prayer, praying these words in expectation that He will restore me to His design. In fact I want more than that, I want Him to make me into an improved version, maybe Rich 2.0 or higher.

My most heart felt prayer today is Speak Lord Your servant is listening followed by, "Here am I Lord, Send me." Completed by a plea that I might be filled with the Spirit that He gave to Elisha and even double that portion so that I can serve Him faithfully.

It is in that time of prayer where I learn to forgive. It is in that time where I learn to trust in God for my daily bread it is in that time where I expect to get a vision for what it looks like for the Kingdom of Heaven to touch the Earth. It is in this time that I am made new, again. I refuse to ever fail at prayer again, may it always be passionate and real.

Rich Schaus is the executive director of the Gospel Rescue Mission.