One of the most famous prayers in history is Lord’s Prayer. While there are numerous Christian denominations, we could see this prayer is one common denominator that all agree and observe.
It is the Alpha and Omega of all prayers, and one of the fundamental models for us to compose our prayers. Jesus himself taught his disciples as a how-to-pray model.
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.Revelation 1:8
In the Gospels, we can see two descriptions of Lord’s Prayer. One is in the Gospel of Matthew as part of the Sermon on the Mount. The other is in the Gospel of Luke as part of a conversation that Jesus taught his disciples how to pray.
And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.Luke 11:1-2
In the Gospel of Matthew, before demonstrating his Lord’s Prayer, Jesus mentioned some “reminders” in Matthew 6:5-8. Jesus said as follows:
- And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
- But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
- But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
- Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
First, prayer is not our performance. It should not be a sort of speech that we can show off how we do it well. Whatever the beautiful words we use, if our focus is on ourselves and our audience, it is not prayer at all. Consciously or unconsciously, we are happy with our performance. “They have their reward.”
Secondly, prayer should be secret and private. It is our conversation with God. He is not a judge in front of us only when we are performing on stage.
He is always with us. We have only taken Him for granted. In a way, prayer is a shift of consciousness to realize that He is with us and within us ever since. It must be in secret, even existential. It is a state of stillness-speaks.
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.Psalm 46:10-11
Thirdly, we should be mindful of each word we utter. Even reciting Lord’s Prayer, as much as possible, we must focus on the profound meaning of each word and sentence. It should never be vain repetition.
Often, we get used to a set of phrases we use in our prayer; hence, it tends to become a random or situational combination of such typical phrases.
On the one hand, we repetitively recite templated prayers. On the other, we are just “talkative” by repeating conventional phrases in mind. Either way, our prayer would be in vain. If that is the case, we had better to be still.
Lastly, Jesus implied, God is not our “customer” that we have to convince. We tend to think, “we shall be heard for our much speaking” if we pray a lot. Yes, we must pray ceaselessly. But it is not because we have to convince God, but because He’s always been with us ever since.
Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.1 Thessalonians 5:17-18
He has known our needs. Prayer is not that we ask and remind Him of what we need, but that we turn ourselves to Him and surrender to His will. It is a sort of metaphysical alignment that we are with God. He is with us. He is within us. We are within Him. Let me repeat this verse:
Be still, and know that I am God:Psalm 46:10
And, Jesus demonstrated Lord’s Prayer. Let us see one by one.
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in 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, for ever. Amen.Matthew 6:9-13
In prayer, we can call God our Father. Is He our Father? Jesus said He is. And we are all His sons and daughters. And yet, His name is so divine to worship Him. If we contemplate on this first phrase, the implication is tremendous.
God is, most of the time, agnostically transcendental beyond our comprehension. Our “common sense” says we don’t know Him, and we can never see Him. That’s true on earth. We can’t prove His existence. However, (or because of that), in prayer, and in faith, we know His Existence. So, Jesus said we can call him our Father.
Our Father resides in heaven, where all boundaries and divisions are dissolving. It is the realm of the ultimate Oneness.
On earth, we hate each other, we kill each other, we criticize each other, and everyone fights against everyone due to what everyone calls justice. It’s so insane. Are we all sons and daughters of the One that we can call our Father? We are so blind.
We can never existentially see such Oneness unless and until we can call God our Father. That is why Jesus told us that we must start prayer by saying, “Our Father which art in heaven.”
Once we are aware of this truth, we could open our eyes a bit. We could see a glimpse of the kingdom of heaven, which is not only in heaven, but as we see, even on earth.
So, we pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” This prayer reminds us of how both John the Baptist and Jesus declared at the start of their mission.
The kingdom of heaven is at hand. When we call God our Father, we are ready for our repentance (turning ourselves to God) and prepared to see the revealed truth that the kingdom of heaven is indeed at hand.
In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.Matthew 3:1-2
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.Matthew 4:17
With our repentance, we see the kingdom of heaven is at hand. At this very moment, we can also see the chaotic surface of our world on earth.
On earth, we hate each other, we kill each other, we criticize each other, and everyone fights against everyone due to what everyone calls justice. It’s so insane. Our desire and intolerance are the sources of such an insane world. In the name of justice, we become so cruel and destructive – exploiting, vandalizing, looting, and disinforming.
Seeing a glimpse of heaven at hand on earth, we pray for our humble daily bread and each other’s forgiveness.
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, for ever. Amen.Matthew 6:11-13
We are sons and daughters of God. Are we? If so, we must never listen to our old self. Our old self keeps on telling us: Blame them! Destroy them! I am right! You are wrong! We are right! They are wrong! Never forgive you! Never forgive them!
Jesus tells us to pray:
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.Matthew 6:13
Image by Jackson David