9 Pray like this:
Our Father who is in heaven,
uphold the holiness of your name.
10 Bring in your kingdom
so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven.
11 Give us the bread we need for today.
12 Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you,
just as we also forgive those who have wronged us.
13 And don’t lead us into temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.
14 “If you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you don’t forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your sins.
The best-known form of the Lord's Prayer says, at the end of verse 13 "for yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, Amen." Few recent English versions include that. The phrase is not in any of the oldest existing manuscripts of Matthew. The King James Version, translated in 1611, used it because the translators did not know any of the older manuscripts we know today. The benediction is not "bad," but doesn’t seem to have been part of Matthew's original gospel. "These words were probably added to Matthew's text when Jesus' prayer became more and more a part of the church's worship." *
Matthew set Jesus’ model prayer in the Sermon on the Mount. Luke also wrote about Jesus teaching the prayer, but in a different setting (cf. Luke 11:1-4). This strongly suggests that Jesus taught this prayer to his followers often, not just one time. Jesus didn’t mean the Lord’s Prayer to be a museum piece, framed in a display case. Nor did he want it emptily recited by rote. Jesus was teaching his disciples, and through them all God’s people, how to meaningfully communicate with God.
Lord Jesus, help me never to be too busy, or too shy, to talk to you about both the big and little things that are on my mind. Thank you for the ongoing conversation we call “prayer.” Amen.
* Eugene Eung-Chun Park and Joel B. Green, study note on Matthew 5:13 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 16 NT.
I learned the Lord’s Prayer when I was a little girl. I grew up in a traditional United Methodist church with a pipe organ, long pews with deep red velvet cushions, a big bell that rang on Sunday mornings and a choir full of church-ladies fanning themselves in their heavy robes. By the time Ms. Janice was trying to teach us the Lord’s Prayer in First Grade Sunday school, most of us already knew all the words from sitting with our parents during worship. We’d learned from the example of those sitting around us who shared in this same prayer week after week, year after year.
You might have learned it in Sunday school, Vacation Bible school or from a grandparent or other relative. Maybe your family said it before Sunday dinner, or maybe you didn’t learn it until you were an adult, attending a funeral or church service where everyone started praying in unison, and you weren’t sure what that was all about. The disciples learned it from Jesus, who repeatedly taught “pray like this…”
Have you ever dreaded a conversation with someone you haven’t talked to for a while? I have. Imagine if someone handed you a note card prior to said awkward, long-overdue conversation that said “Say this…”? What a game changer. I don’t know about you, but I can overthink a conversation 1000 different ways before I might get up the nerve to start one that I’ve been putting off for one reason or another. This clearly defined cue card that Jesus offers is a valuable tool when we’re a bit overdue in our conversations with God.
With all the changes in our everyday lives, I have found it harder to engage in prayer as consistently as I did several months ago. Some of this is a change to my daily rhythm, with no commute to the office and an increased level of busyness in my home. The moments of stillness I could carve out in the morning and at night are much harder for me to recognize these days. The longer these distancing practices have gone on, the more intentional I have found I have to be at building time into my day, everyday, for prayer. Sometimes I don’t realize until I’m praying the Lord’s Prayer during worship on the weekend that I’ve not been keeping up the conversations with God that often help me feel more centered and grounded.
You know why Jesus taught this model of prayer, and then taught it over and over? Because we all need instructions and we all need reminders. I can’t imagine what challenges the disciples faced that took their attention away from prayer, but I am sure there were many, just as we have. I am grateful to have this reminder every time we join together in worship and recite the words that Jesus taught. I recognize it as an opportunity for a re-boot in my ongoing conversation with God.
As you worship this weekend, or online during the week, lean into the words of the Lord’s Prayer and settle into that conversation with God. Let that give you momentum to continue conversing daily with God. When life gets heavy let Jesus be your guide when you just don’t know what to pray. We’ve got a simple recipe to work from, no special skills required.
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