Reading: Luke 11.1-4
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.’
For many of us the Lord’s Prayer has always been there; we cannot remember a time when we could not recite its wonderful words. In our modern times it is not so ubiquitous. Children do not master its flowing poetry either before or after starting school, nor during those formative years of compulsory education. In fact, when preparing services of baptism, marriage or funeral I have to check that its words have been included in the Order of Service. I cannot presume, as was once the case, that everyone present will know the words!
Throughout the two thousand year history of the Christian Church, the Lord’s Prayer has always been there, and with good reason. Jesus gave us this prayer in response to his disciple’s plea: Lord, teach us to pray. In these few words Jesus gave us the perfect model for bringing all of our hopes, fears, needs and praises to God. In these few words Jesus demonstrates his own teaching about avoiding verbosity and display when we pray.
Everyone, without exception, has times when they find it difficult to pray. Everyone, without exception, find themselves getting tongue-tied and inarticulate when they try to pray. Everyone, without exception, knows those times when they have so much to pray about, but they just cannot find the right words. These are the times, amongst many others, when the Lord’s Prayer can come to the rescue.
In the Lord’s Prayer we find prayers of worship, hope, intercession, confession and deliverance. When he was asked how to pray, Jesus’ response was a masterpiece of how to do just that. No matter what may be uppermost in our minds, the Lord’s Prayer ensures the completeness of our prayer. The Lord’s Prayer also models the directness with which we can approach God, just as we should be able to approach our earthly fathers. Jesus does not give us a model of prayer that is wrapped up in convoluted linguistic devices, instead he tells us to approach God in the certainty that, whoever we are, we will be listened to.
So, when you pray, use the Lord’s Prayer. Sit back and listen. Listen for that still small voice of God’s response to your worship, hope, intercession, confession and desire for deliverance. For the glory, the power and the honour are his for ever and ever. Amen.