7 ‘When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 ‘Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
14For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
We communicate with one another through many ways. We use our eyes, our hands, our entire body. Today we e-mail, text, tweet, blog, and instagram. Yet with all these ways of communication, our verbal conversations and cues maybe the single most important way we communicate. I was reading recently that we use all these other forms so much, it is rare that we even use our phones to actually call somebody. Conversation is reserved for the most important people in our lives.
And prayer, whether verbal or internal, is at its root, a conversation with God. Professor Gary Waller observes, “Prayer is THE core activity of the Spirit-filled life and therefore, prayer is essential; there is no spiritual growth without it (“Spiritual Formation, A Wesleyan Paradigm,” 117).” John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement said prayer is “the grand means of drawing near to God.” It is time to learn for the church to learn to pray.
The disciples understood this whole thing. As Jews, they knew prayer to be at the heart of their religion. The only regret the Pharisees had in life is that they couldn’t pray 24-7. So after seeing Jesus at prayer, one of the disciples shuffles over and says to Jesus, “Teach us to pray.” And so he gives them what we call the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gives us a model prayer - one we can pray as is AND one which we can improvise with, ‘Jazz’ it up - make it your own. Pastor Craig Groeshel (lifechurch.tv) describes the model with 5 P’s:
- Seek God’s PRESENCE rightly: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…” The word hallowed really means “to make holy,” to set apart from the everyday. There is NOTHING ordinary about God.
- Seek God’s PRIORITIES first: “...your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It is so much easier to consider our own perspective over anyone else’s; our point of view matters first; I demand my rights; give me what I deserve! (We really DON’T want the last one, not really. See point #4) Jesus says put God’s priorities on the top of the list, and in Matthew 6:33 says, “everything else will work.”
- Seek God’s PROVISIONS for life: “Give us today our daily bread…” Sorry, the idea of “name it and claim it” is not understood in Jesus’ teaching. Jesus did not do this for himself and teaches his disciples to keep in mind we are to pray for bread; keep it simple.
- Seek God’s PARDON for sin: “Forgive us our trespasses(debts) as we have forgiven our trespassers (debtors).” Remember wanting what we deserve? Debtors in Jesus’ day often went to prison. We owe God our lives and we need to forgive as much as we need forgiveness.
- Seek God’s POWER to overcome: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” I really did not and do not like having a low vision disability which is why I joke about it. I don’t like large crowds much, I’m not as good at 4 Square or Wiffle Ball, and I don’t like driving in hard rain. But facing temptations and dealing with Satan’s minions? I’ve always needed help with those. On our own, we are always going to be losers. Jesus is saying “own up to it.”
This is the way to pray Jesus said. You don’t need fancy words, a theology degree or to be ordained. You just need to do it. Jesus had a way of keeping things simple. Prayer is one of them.