When Jesus’ disciples asked him for help with prayer, he gave them the beautifully simple and wonderfully comprehensive words known to us as ‘The Lord’s Prayer’. Amongst everything that has been taught in human history, there is good reason to consider this prayer the most important lesson ever given. It’s a prayer that’s been cherished by Christians everywhere, giving us an insight into Jesus’ heart and priorities.
If there’s a problem with ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ it’s that it has become so familiar to us that we don’t think about what we’re praying. This prayer sometimes becomes so cheapened by numb routine that the impact of what we are praying becomes lost on us. This means that it’s well worth our time thinking again about this prayer, reminding ourselves of its rich and intimate truths, taking them deeply into our hearts again.
Over the next six Sundays, we’ll be thinking deeply about this prayer. If you’re anything like me, you’re often confronted by the inadequacy of your own prayer life. Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s words are a sober reminder, ‘What someone is alone on their knees before God, that they are – and no more’. The quality of any relationship normally depends on the quality of the communication. That means, intimacy and devotion to God should be marked by a frequent and fervent prayer life.
As we understand ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ more deeply, we want to remind ourselves of the privilege of prayer. We have access to the Creator of the Universe, as ‘Our Father’. As we pray, we recalibrate our priorities, putting his will and his kingdom before our own. We take comfort in knowing that he is aware of our needs more than we are, and he delights to answer our prayers when we pray in accordance with his will. And we rejoice, knowing that he forgives us.
‘The Lord’s Prayer’ is what we need. It’s given to us by Jesus, the ultimate authority on prayer. Jesus himself knew his need for prayer and always made time for it. Moreover, this prayer is wonderfully flexible. We can use it in any context, branching out from its words into whatever situation we find ourselves. And finally, this is a prayer that gives shape to life. It shows us how the gospel affects everything.