Saturday, 9 May 2009

The Lord's Prayer - God's gift to us

The so-called ‘Lord’s Prayer’ is, if you think about it, the only prayer God has directly given us to pray. When Jesus was asked by his disciples “Lord, teach us to pray..” his response was: “When you pray, say…” and then gave them the words of the prayer. Because it’s the only instance in the Bible I can think of (I am ready to be corrected) where God has actually given us such a prayer then that surely invests it with much greater significance than we perhaps imagined. It also elevates it above mere repetition because it reveals within it the kind of priorities that marked Jesus’ prayer life. We often read of Jesus going off into some lonely place to pray, whether a mountain or a grove of olive trees. But what, we sometimes ask, did he pray about and for? Here is the answer. In this special prayer, this gift from God to us, Jesus outlines the things on his heart (and therefore God’s) and passes them on to us. Just think for a moment of the kind of things it contains:

He asks us to address God as our Father in heaven. That is how Jesus knew him. “And i will ask the Father, and he will give you another counsellor..” (John 14:16). In fact, as he tells the disciples earlier, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) He tells the disciples to “hallow” His name. In John 17:1 Jesus prays: “Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” He tells them to pray that his Kingdom will come and his will be done: From the start of his ministry Jesus preached that the Kingdom of heaven was at hand (Matthew 4:17). And in the Garden of Gethsemane he put his own immediate needs second to God’s when he prayed: “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) As you follow through the prayer line by line you can see instances in Jesus’ life where all the petitions reflect the kinds of prayers and priorities he made in his life and now passes on to us, as his disciples -Christ-bearers – to pray and make our own.

I have read many a book on prayer both to help boost my own prayer-life and help those who come to me and ask me how to pray. I have used many different patterns and ‘methods’ of praying which have been useful over the years. But none of them has been as all-encompassing and comprehensive as the Lord’s Prayer. And no wonder, as it contains all the things we should pray and which jesus prayed himself. It’s his gift to us, and one of his most precious, because it gives us a glimpse into the prayer-life of Jesus himself, the master of prayer.

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