When You Don’t Know What to Pray (Part One): The Lord’s Prayer

Let’s face it. Sometimes when we hit our knees, we draw a blank. Our prodigals need so much from the Lord, but we may feel we’ve prayed it all with every possible word combination in every possible physical position, with or without tears, and with or without fasting. We’ve prayed from the Word, from other people’s prayers, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and from our own heart. We know that every prayer is before the throne in vials (Revelations 5:8), so we just don’t know what else we can say.

The Word is full of possibilities. In fact, I wrote a whole book of prayer starters based on Scriptural prayer, but for this blog series, I want to focus on four possibilities, starting with The Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6:9–13 NKJV).

“Our Father”

These two words move me. I am so thankful to be a part of an our! I am so thankful to be in a family that serves God and to have someone in my life—yes, my prodigal—that I love so much that I will pray for rather constantly. This is a great place to thank the Father for His amazing gifts!

“in heaven,”

God is in heaven, and all things and all people are His, including our prodigals (Psalm 24:1). When we pray “in heaven,” it reminds us of the majesty of our heavenly Father and His rightful place in our lives: “For You, LORD, are most high above all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods” (Psalm 97:9). Our Father is in heaven.

“Hallowed be Your name.”

We are enter into God’s courts with praise (Psalm 100:4), and the names of God give a plethora of reasons to praise our God. When we praise His name, no matter which name, it builds our faith, reminding us of who God is and what He will or will not do, as well as about His power, authority, promises, ability, and resources. There is a name for every situation possible in the lives of our prodigals. For example, they obviously need our Savior and all He provided for them. If they are bound, He is Truth, and the truth sets them free. If they are hurt, He is Jehovah Rapha, The Lord Our Healer. Because they are in enemy territory, we praise God as Jehovah Nissi, The Lord Our Banner, standing on the promise: “So shall they fear The name of the LORD from the west, And His glory from the rising of the sun; When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59:19). When the battle is hot, God is Jehovah Sabaoth, The Lord Of Hosts, the Commander of the armies of heaven.

Praising before petitioning puts us in a place of faith, which makes for effective praying.

“Your kingdom come.”  

God is the King of kings, and He is “sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe [fills] the temple” (Isaiah 6:1). He has an army (2 Kings 6:17) in addition to being all-powerful, and it is His perfect will that our prodigals be saved (2 Peter 3:9). It is His kingdom, and we are praying that His kingdom will come to them, that they will be part of His kingdom. We cannot make His kingdom come, but we can pray it into its coming as we pray effective, fervent prayers in His perfect will. We definitely want His kingdom to come to our prodigals!

“Your will be done One earth as it is in heaven.”

God’s perfect will is done in heaven always, every day, every second. Our prayers build conduits between heaven and earth so His perfect will is done here.

But what about prodigals’ free will? Philippians 2:13 says that He “works in [them] both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Their will isn’t free (2 Timothy 2:26), but God is even working on their will to free it from the grasp of Satan. Many times, when I pray over situations, I pray, Lord, let Your perfect will be done in that life just like Your perfect will is done in heaven. I believe it pleases the Father when we pray for His perfect will to be done.

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

Not only do we pray for the Lord to provide for our prodigals’ physical needs, but we can pray for His other provisions each day in their lives, provision of His manifest presence, godly influences, reminders of truth, and protection from evil, as well as many other things we know they need in their lives each day.

“And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.”

We must be forgiven by God and others, as well as giving forgiveness to others, for our prayers for our prodigals to be heard, and we desperately want—and our prodigals desperately need—for them to be heard. The Word says:

  • “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2).
  • “‘For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14–15).
  • “‘Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift’” (Matthew 5:23–24).

When I pray this part of the Lord’s Prayer, the Holy Spirit sometimes reminds me of someone I need to forgive, or calls to mind someone to whom I owed an apology.

The good news is: “He hears the prayer of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:29).

“And do not lead us into temptation”

Temptations are everywhere, and we can allow this phrase to remind us to ask God to keep our prodigals from evil and to keep evil from them, and that they would stay far away from the paths of sin, not even going near a path or a door that might tempt them (Proverbs 4:14–15; 5:8). Our God can do this!

“But deliver us from the evil one.”

We are all very well aware of the enemy’s plan to kill, steal, and destroy our prodigals (John 10:10). I believe he also uses our prodigals as pawns in his attempts to kill, steal, and destroy us. The good news is that the Lord is stronger, and, as John 16:33 tells us, Jesus has overcome the world! He will bring them “up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set [their] feet upon a rock, And [establish their] steps” in answer to our prayers (Psalm 40:2).

“But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:3).

“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”

This is one more chance to praise and to be reminded that we can trust Him. It is His kingdom, and it is in His power to work His perfect will in His kingdom.

And, of course, He deserves the glory, so we can end with a time of praise, basking in His presence, because He inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3 KJV).


I love this part, because Jesus said that He is the Amen (Revelation 3:14). When we say amen, we are automatically praying in one of the names of Jesus, and it means so be it!

Amen! So be it!

The Lord’s Prayer has been the basis for so many prayers for so many situations, but it is especially suited for praying for prodigals, speaking to so many parts of the prodigal journey.

The Word of the Lord is perfect, revealing God’s perfect will, making it the best source for prayers for prodigals.

(Please, check back soon for the parts of this series.)

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