This is my radio devotion for Wednesday, March 3, on KCNI. Thanks to KCNI for airing weekday devotions from the pastors of the Custer County Ministerial Association.

Do you want the world to be a better place? Are you a little skeptical of God or God’s presence in your life or the world?

Good morning. This week, as the season of Lent takes off, I want to explore some concrete ways to experience God’s transforming presence in our lives and the world.

As we continue today with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6, Jesus continues to encourage spiritual practices for the sake of drawing closer to God and who God calls us to be. It’s in that spirit that he invites us to connect to God and grow in our faithfulness through prayer.

Now, prayer is one of those things we often assume everyone knows about; however, Jesus gives us some concrete, practical instructions about prayer. He invites us to pray “in a secret place” (v. 6). So, maybe that’s in your room, or under the covers before you get out of bed, or in the cab of a truck on the way to somewhere, or out in a field. Maybe, his point is, in part, that prayer can happen everywhere.

Sometimes we don’t know what to pray or how to pray or what words to use. Jesus has something for us when we feel like that saying, “When you pray, don’t pour out a flood of empty words” (v. 7). He encourages us: prayer is not about the fancy words we use, or how many words we fit into a prayer. Prayer is about our heart’s desire to connect with God and all that is holy in us.

Finally, Jesus gives his followers a specific example of prayer, which we often call “The Lord’s Prayer” (vv. 9-13). Yet, I know that sometimes in my tradition, I just go through the motions of praying this prayer from memory without thinking about it. So, here’s a way to pray the Lord’s Prayer as an opening for our prayers.

Our Father, who is in heaven, holy is your name…Here, we can thank God for who God is, and for God’s abundant faithfulness.

Bring in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven…Here, we can pray for God’s rule and reign to become a reality in our hearts and the world.

Give us the bread we need for today…Pray for God’s daily provision in our lives.

Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, just as we also forgive those who have wronged us…Here, we can confess our sins to God, and forgive people who have wronged us.

Don’t lead us into temptation…Here, we can ask God to guide us in “paths of righteousness.”

But rescue us from evil…We can pray for God’s protection against the forces that seek to separate us from God’s love.

Often, our traditions include prayers of praise thanks at the end of this prayer. In these ways, may we draw closer to God and who God created us to be, today and each day.

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