Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
I think there are probably millions of people around the world who have said the Lord’s Prayer. It’s very popular—but not as popular as the prayer, Dear Lord, please don’t tell me I locked my keys in the car.
Very often we say a quick prayer like that because we’re in trouble. The danger with such a familiar prayer like the Lord’s Prayer is that it can become routine and lose its meaning. When you’ve said it so much, do you even know what you’re saying?
It’s one of the things many of us remember from Sunday School days or when we went to church with our parents. We can say it off by heart, because it’s so familiar. On Easter Sunday 2007 it was estimated that 2 billion Catholic, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox Christians read, recited, or sang this short prayer in hundreds of languages.
Jesus taught us how to pray
The Lord’s Prayer appears in two different versions in the New Testament of the Bible. It appears in both the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke. It is often incorporated into church services. Furthermore, many families say the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of an evening meal. This is fitting as one of the lines is, “Give us this day our daily bread”.
Matthew 6:5-15 (NIV) gives us the words from Jesus:
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
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 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.
Meditating on the Lord’s Prayer
There are several things we can learn from this prayer that are helpful if you want to be a better prayer. If you want to be better at praying, this is a good place to start.
First, did you notice how it doesn’t start? It doesn’t start by asking for stuff.
Jesus doesn’t encourage us to lay out a shopping list of needs. Interestingly, asking is a part of this prayer, but not until we give God the proper praise and acknowledgement. No matter how urgent our request, it is only when God is given God’s proper place that all other things fall into their places.
Do you give God ‘number one’ spot in your life? Is he first place? Let’s take a look at it.
Our Father in heaven. We need to always acknowledge first and foremost who we are talking to. He (God) is our heavenly Father. We address him with respect just as we should address our earthly father with respect. He is the only true God who created all things in this universe, including ourselves. He loves us and we need to show our love for him.
The prayer starts with an interesting paradox that I think defines a lot about our faith. The statement ‘our Father’ connotes a special kind of intimacy without being too chummy. It conveys a parental closeness with a healthy sense of reverence. But it’s followed up with ‘in heaven’. So right away we are encouraged to acknowledge God’s intimate closeness and God’s majestic otherness, covering the totality of who God is for us. God is both our Parent and the ruler of the Cosmos.
Hallowed be your name. We must see him as being holy, sanctified, consecrated; worthy of praise, honour and glory! And God’s name should be hallowed. To hallow something is to treat it as sacred. ‘Hallowed’ is like ‘haloed’. It’s a way of giving God honour: Your name is holy. It’s another way of saying that the One to whom we pray is greater than we could ever imagine. We speak a lot of names during the day, but we should speak God’s name differently. We are to speak God’s name in a way that conveys the holiness and reverence it deserves.
(To be continued in The Lord’s Prayer – Part 2)
Source: Max Lucado