Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” Jesus said, “This is how you should pray: “Father, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. Give us each day the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation. ” Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”
Luke 11:1-13 NLT
This is the passage where we get “The Lord’s Prayer” — and whether our English translation has us reading verse 2 as “This is how you should pray” or as “When you pray, say” could have a person contemplating whether they should be using Jesus’ words as a template or as a recitation. It could have someone rightly contemplating the dangers of adding to our subtracting from The Word or changing a single jot or tittle, the dangers of heaping up empty phrases (Matthew 6:7), but the call to be constant in our prayer requests to God (Philipians 4:6) and Jesus providing an example himself of repetition in prayer (Matthew 26:44).
We should know that the heartfelt content of our prayer, our fellowship, our communing with God should be genuine — and not just empty, rote, traditional practice.
Mindlessly chanting or reciting phrases that we do not consider in our minds and believe in our hearts seems to be the type of outward religious hypocrisy that The Word warns us about in places like Matthew 23 and Amos 5.
But don’t misunderstand this as an attack on The Lord’s Prayer. I can take even the writing of this morning’s journal study on this topic and turn it into dead, intellectual, ritual practice with no abiding connection to the life giving flow of personal, intimate, close relationship with God if I have missed the point.
But when we are connected with God in intimate communication, the beautiful words Christ has given us in print, along with those words written upon our heart — as genuine, personal requests to our Heavenly Father are effective and important in our daily walk.
Our Father in heaven, your name is greatly revered and honored. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. Thank you, LORD, for your endless mercies and grace and for the victory we know in Christ Jesus. Amen.