Jesus said: ‘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. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
‘Pray then in this way:Matthew 6:7-15
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
We all find it difficult to pray. There are so many distractions that clamour into our minds no matter how determined we may be to focus solely on God.
It was the Jewish tradition to indulge in wordy formulaic prayers. In today’s reading we see Jesus introducing us to a new style of prayer. This newness is seen in his prayer’s opening phrase: Our Father. These two words (originally contained in the single Aramaic word: Abba, meaning ‘daddy’ in our modern way of speaking) points us towards a more intimate relationship with God, the God who is Jesus’ Father and ours.
Jesus tells us that God knows what we need before we ask, there is no value in wordy, formulaic prayers. Jesus also tells us that God will answer our prayers if we work on developing that very special relationship with him; if we make the step into a committed Christian life.
The Lord’s Prayer, as we know Jesus’ radical new style of prayer, could also be thought of as The Disciples’ Prayer. By using this prayer we are expressing Praise, Hope, Intercession, Penitence, our need for Deliverance and Praise. In these few words we are entering into the totality of prayer in a direct and faithful way. In this most special of prayers we are turning our backs on the many diversions that distract us when we pray. In this most special of prayers we are following the lead of him who knows God better than any of us. In this most special of prayers we are allowing ourselves to focus on the God who loves us.
Today’s challenge is simple.
How often do you find it hard to pray? Here is the solution. Say The Lord’s Prayer (or The Disciples’ Prayer) and allow those words to transport you into the nearer presence of your God and Father.