I never thought the Lord’s Prayer would relate to anger. That’s probably because we usually associate the prayer with that sort-of-feel-good moment in church when we all pray the words together. But anger?
It relates especially when we find ourselves asking, Why am I angry all the time? Especially in my relationships?
It’s tough to see the Lord’s prayer helping much with anger. But it does.
Your Rights, Responsibilities, and Relationships
Anger is the emotion of self-preservation. —Dr. Les Carter
If that’s true, we can begin to see our vulnerability to anger when someone violates our personal worth, needs, or beliefs.
In those moments, we need to remember that God’s Word always speaks in terms of our responsibilities—never in terms of our rights.
That’s why the Lord’s Prayer has the words, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” You have the responsibility to forgive others, not the right to be forgiven by them. Notice also the verb tenses.
- You forgive others before you ask God to forgive you.
- In fact, the verses that follow explain that you remain out of fellowship with God until you have forgiven others (Matthew 6:14-15).
The principle of responsibility extends to all relationships.
- A husband has the responsibility to love his wife sacrificially, but she does not have the right to be loved by him.
- You have the responsibility to consider others better than yourself, but you don’t have the right to have others do the same.
Obviously, there is nothing wrong with a desire for love from others. Just consider why you want it. Is the motive selfish?
You’ll know it’s selfish when you get angry when you don’t get love when you want it.
A Better Alternative
But there’s a better motive:
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. —Matthew 6:13
The word “For” reveals the purpose for which you have prayed: the glory of God. (Not God’s glory and . . .)
Instead of approaching each day with the goal of getting your “needs” met, try asking the Lord: “How can I glorify you today?” The first perspective draws you toward frustration, the second, toward God.
Ask yourself, How can I glorify God today?
- as you get dressed each morning
- as you drive to work or to the store
- as you clean the kitchen
- as you head to a social event
- as you answer a rude person
- as you live with chronic pain
For as Paul reminds us, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
The Lord’s Prayer helps us understand that we have responsibilities in relationships, not rights. And our goal is God’s glory, not self-fulfillment.
When we center our lives on glorifying God, we will discover the joy of living for something much bigger than ourselves.
Tell me what you think: What helps you when you get angry? To leave a comment, just click here.