Today’s Lectio Divina: The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and He knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:
Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best— as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes. Matthew 6: 7-13 (MsgB)
Our friends at Wikipedia define it this way…
Prayer is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship, typically a deity, through deliberate communication.
In truth, every religion on the planet teaches its followers to utilize some form of prayer, a shared sequence of words and/or actions that enables and empowers human beings to draw closer to the Divine.
For those of us who call ourselves Christians, followers of Jesus of Nazareth, there is a very familiar common prayer that has been used now for centuries. Its origin has its roots in the ancient texts of the New Testament, and it is called by numerous names:
The Lord’s Prayer
…and some just call it, The Prayer.
Like with many religious traditions, the text of The Prayer has varied somewhat over the centuries, and depending on what church one attends, the actual words we use, even today, can differ.
Yet surprisingly, despite its longevity and its varied use by the many sects within the Christian Faith, it would be hard to find a person on the planet, including those who deem themselves as atheists, who would not readily recognize these familiar words as being The Lord’s Prayer.
Growing up in the Presbyterian church, I memorized The Prayer this way…
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, Forever. Amen.
It’s only after I met my wife-to-be, Sandy, when I heard her recite the Lutheran version, which removed debts and debtors, replacing them with trespasses and trespassers, and adding in a longer For Ever and Ever ending.
Of course, like all us do with our long-standing traditions, I assumed Sandy had her Lord’s Prayer all mixed up, but now, after 40-plus years of marriage, we kinda merged our traditions and simply go with the flow!
Sadly, The Prayer has become so familiar to so many of us, it can be recited by most without an ounce of feeling or thinking.
Did you know that before people had ready access to clocks, The Prayer was used by cooks to time their food preparation? For example, one ancient recipe asks the chef to “simmer the broth for three Lord’s Prayers!”
Amen! Let’s eat!
So, what’s your experience with The Lord’s Prayer?
I’m guessing you have your own interesting stories of how God has used this unique prayer in your life.
Over the next few weeks, I invite you to take a journey with me as we spend some time contemplating The Prayer, looking a bit deeper at the words and meanings of this ancient text. Who knows? Maybe we’ll uncover a few nuggets that just might help us bring some new life and vigor to this ancient prayer.
I hope you’ll join us!
My Prayer: So, Jesus, as the Gospels tell us, You are the One who started all this. I’m so glad one of your disciples asked You about how You prayed, because now, we have a working model of how we can pray as You did. Yet, Master, as it is with most religious activity, we human beings can take something beautiful given to us by God and make it into something so dry and crusty, we go through the motions, say the words, and never feel a thing! Holy Spirit, come indwell and empower this time of pondering anew The Master’s Prayer. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My Questions To Ponder: As I reflect upon my experiences with The Prayer, what memories stand out? What positive experiences have come through my times with The Prayer? What negatives stand out as well? Am I willing to pull out these ancient words once again and take a fresh look at their meaning and application in my life?
So, what is God speaking to you as you ponder on The Lord’s Prayer?
Over a period of four weeks (3 sessions per week), we will take you on a journey (12-sessions) we call Contemplating The Prayer: Pondering Anew The Prayer of Jesus. We suggest you bookmark our blog series homepage to keep all the writings in one place for your future reference. Take note that each blog session begins with a short scripture reading. My suggestion is that you don’t hurry through, or skip the text, but treat it as a Lectio Divina reading where you slow down and sit a bit with God’s Word, allowing it to penetrate and influence you as you read. Each session also ends with a few thoughts to ponder on. I look forward to hearing some of your insight as we journey together!
Oh, and if you enjoy what you’re reading here, we encourage you to share this page and our website, The Contemplative Activist, with your friends!