The Lord’s Prayer
“Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy. (Matthew 6:9)
There are two versions of the Lord’s Prayer in the Bible; the shorter form is in Luke 11; the longer one, which we typically use in worship, is in Matthew 6 and is part of Jesus’ great Sermon on the Mount. Let’s move forward through the prayer step-by-step, and we will find all the primary spiritual practices of prayer in which we can grow for the rest of our lives.
Jesus began his instruction by telling us to address God as our Father. The words are familiar to us, but the concept often escapes us. We tend to think of God as a high and mighty king or a stern and calculating judge, but Jesus wants us to see and believe that God is most like a loving parent. While God has many aspects of his character that are beyond our understanding, such as the power by which he governs the universe, God’s primary focus is on us as his children. Jesus wants us to recognize the truth of God’s fatherhood and enjoy it. We are God’s children! Or to make it more personal, Jesus invites us to know joyfully, “I am God’s child.”
Almighty God, thank you that I can come to know you and call upon you as my Father. Thank you that you are always present with me and mindful of me, even when I am not mindful of you. Teach me to live constantly, day-by-day and moment-by-moment, in the power of your presence and the joy of your love.
In teaching us to begin our prayer by addressing God as Father, Jesus is showing us how to open a spiritual channel between ourselves and God. God wants to pour his abundant love, peace, and joy into our soul. God is there, waiting to do this for us. All that is required is our desire for God and our willingness to respond. Once we open this channel and become receptive to God’s love, we will need nothing of earth to satisfy us. God himself will be our all-sufficient source for everything we need. But opening this channel requires time and stillness. Therefore, we must make the time, go to a private place, and call on God as Father. I know of one family that turned a spare room into a prayer chapel so that any member of the family at any time could have a quiet place to pray. I think it best to speak out the word, “Father.” Then we should sit patiently and become mindful of the presence and love of God. Essentially, we should stop struggling with all our earthly worries, turn our attention to God, and let our Heavenly Father love on us. It is not that we become passive and do nothing; it is to be receptive, in which we open ourselves and receive. Again, God is waiting for us to shower us with his abundant love.