Reader: “The disciples said,”
Response: “Lord, teach us how to pray,”
Scripture: Matthew 6: 9-15
“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. 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 men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Reader: This is the word of the Lord.
Response: Thanks be to God.
Right after Jesus talked about the importance of praying, he gave us an example of how to do it. Notice the careful choice of words. He begins, “Our Father in heaven…” He makes a point of reminding us of the great reality of the moment. We are not simply saying words, we are talking to the Creator of the universe in real time! At the same time we are being reminded of whose we are and at the same time reminding us of the existence of another world we cannot see. (The Bible is the one book that presumes the reality of other dimensions and worlds outside the four dimensions in which we live. The writers never presume an allegorical or mythical mindset of heaven. Heaven is always treated as reality.) Perhaps it would be wise to think a little more carefully than we sometimes do in how we begin prayers. It might be that “God, we ask you to…” may not be the most thoughtful, respectful way to address our Creator. Our words belie our shallow understanding of the One we address. “God” is not meant as a punctuation mark. Notice the way Jesus addresses his Father in John 17. It is a prayer well worth studying. It is kind of eavesdropping on Jesus’ conversation with his Father. He is always mindful of who he is and who his Father is. Certainly there are times when a prayer is as short and urgent as “Help, Lord!” Though Jesus is our friend, he is also our coming King, our constant Intercessor, our victorious Warrior, our compassionate Redeemer, our holy Savior, all of which do not make us equals! In his prayers, Jesus was ever aware of his own Father/Son relationship. Remember, we are praying to a Father in heaven who has adopted us as his children. That kind of awareness is perhaps something we can tune our hearts to in our prayers. As you pray this week, be very aware of with whom you are talking. Jesus always was.
Music: “The Lord’s Prayer” Andrea Bocelli and Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, forgive us for those times we pray without thinking of the One to whom we are talking; for those times when we babble, lost in our words and our little world, oblivious to your grand design; for those times we drift off and forget we were praying; for those times when we tell you how to solve our problems and how to be God; and for those times when we are disrespectful and arrogant in our prayers as we seek to be clever or earthy. Teach us to pray as your dear Son prayed, for it is in his name that we offer this prayer. Amen. ―Daniel Sharp
Book Recommendation: A Diary of Private Prayer, John Baillie, Scribners