Jesus Taught Us How To Pray So Let’s Do It
Now Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he stopped, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
So he said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, may your name be honored; may your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And do not lead us into temptation.”
You’ve probably heard a few different versions of this. Different denominations say it together with a different cadence and some people say forgive our sins, debts, trespasses, etc.
It can be a little ironic that what we call “The Lord’s Prayer” is the start of a teaching on not repeating the same mindless prayers over and over again. I heard a guy say once “You can’t end an AA meeting without saying the Lord’s prayer, so…” and off they went reciting it.
At the same time, it is the exact prayer that Jesus said when answering the question “teach us how to pray.” We can’t throw it out so easily, can we?
We sing songs over and over and pray them without feeling guilty, so I think we can pray this over and over and not feel bad about repeating words. Many people do like I did, in my religious infancy, and pray this prayer over and over while they don’t know any other ways to pray. On the elevator in college I would recite it, in earnest, on the way from 9 down to 3, where I knew other people would get on and I was shy about praying out loud.
God heard that. It was like the outside-the-lines-coloring-page that He hung on His fridge.
[side note: you can also pray this prayer with others while doing evangelism. Even if people say they don’t know how to pray, many folks in the tri-state can limp along through the Lord’s Prayer. It gives them a chance to participate with you in praying for them!]
The other thing about praying this prayer is momentum. Isn’t there so much good and desirable in this prayer? Isn’t there so much that you really want to see God do?
- for His name to be holy
- for His kingdom to come and be present here
- for everything we need to be given to us every day
- for our sins to be forgiven
- for us to have the power to forgive other people’s sins
- for us to be able to endure and overcome evil?
Well then join me and Billy Graham and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mother Theresa and Julian of Norwich and Augustine and Clement of Rome in the ages-long lineage of people who have prayed this prayer! (They are all, no doubt, having different conversations with God now, of course.)
All of Christian history since this day that Jesus taught this has been praying for these things to occur in the lives of believers and the world around them. This isn’t a ‘give me a raise today, Lord’ prayer but an ‘all of Christian history has been asking for this, Lord, and I’m asking for it too!’ prayer.
So use it as a guide, memorize it, or whatever. It’s the way Jesus taught His disciples to pray, so it’s good to take it seriously.