“This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven,hallowed be your name,” [Matthew ch6 v9]
I thought that I would have a look at The Lord’s Prayer seeing that we have not been able to say this together for so long. Jesus teaches His followers then and now about prayer itself and goes on to tell everyone how to pray. Prayer is described by one theologian as, “a letter sent from earth to heaven” [Matthew Henry Commentary] and I have always found this a useful way of looking at prayer. I have always taught people to think about prayer as a letter to God as it can contain Hopes, Supplication, Prayer for others. This is in our own voice not with high-sounding words or phrases which have no real meaning but sound good.
Now look at the example Jesus gave to those who asked, it is simple and straight forward, yet the words are loaded with meaning. It may be the case that He is condemning the Spiritual Leaders of the day who intoned elaborate prayers and practices to make themselves look good but had little to do with speaking to God. Jesus starts a letter which declares who the prayer is to and where, no use saying something vague where God is not even mentioned. Who knows what or whom you are praying to then, prayers should be directed not let loose to who knows where.
It starts with “Our” a word which binds us together as Christians past and present, near and far. Often, we have said this prayer in church or as a Christian Group, so the togetherness is apparent. When we have said this prayer over the last few months, we are tapping into the great community of believers all around the world. We are also reaching out into the past with all those who have said this prayer throughout the years thinking maybe of the generations who have attended the church.
It continues with “Father”, the creator and carer of us all, the One who can directly be approached with a familiarity which is more common in families. Jesus encourages us to think of God as the Good Father who loves us and cares for us, weak as we are and not worthy in so many ways. Yet we are given worth by this privilege of being able to approach God directly and address Him so. God knows us through and through, good and not so good, at our best and at our worst, He sees into the heart as no other.
He then responds to our prayers by listening but never granting what is not for us. He does not give something wished for, but which could be harmful, He gives what is needed. Not worldly riches but spiritual riches which can give us confidence and a mind-set to succeed. He brings us back from the wrong path and waits for us patiently as the Father in the Prodigal Son [Luke 15] because strange as it may seem our brightest plan or deepest wish may not be the best way. Telling God what you want Him to do for you does not work, lay the trouble before Him and wait for the answer.
Part of prayer is listening, to Be Still, still the mind and take time out just to Be and no more than that. Simple isn’t it? Unfortunately for many the simple way of worship is difficult to grasp.
So there we have it, the first two words of a prayer which has so much behind it because simple is deceptive when we pack so much meaning and faith behind them. When we pray let us remember that we are addressing God directly and in that prayer we are aware of our fellow Christians, the needs of others and the wonder and Glory of God. I shall talk a bit more about the Lord’s Prayer over the next few weeks and I hope that when we next pray together we can appreciate the deeper meaning of each phrase and understand what we are really saying and asking for.
LET US PRAY
LOVING AND ALMIGHTY GOD,
We come before You in all humility and in awe of Your Mighty Creative Power.
We thank You that we can approach You without fear and in such a way that we can call You Father
With all that this means, a Caring, Loving, Protector and Guide.
We pray for Your church here and remember those who have gone before us, who have built the church to what it is today and whose faithful prayers have sustained the community around us.
We pray for the future of our church, that difficulties are overcome in re-opening and ask a blessing on the office -bearers who have so much to do.
We pray for the young people within our area, those who have started back to school and the school staff working during these difficult times. We pray also for the Youth Groups and Uniformed Organisations as they plan the way ahead.
We pray for those in need and ask Your healing touch on the sick, the lonely, the anxious, all those in need of prayer.
We ask in the name of Jesus
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