Man is a praying animal. We pray to God for his blessings, his care and protection for our own good. But we also make intercessory prayers for other people. Jesus taught his disciples how to pray. The Gospels according to Matthew and according to Luke record what Jesus taught on prayer. According Matthew Jesus taught that his disciples should pray like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us no into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:9-13). This is known as the Lord’s Prayer.
Christians recite this prayer in their worship at Church, in family and elsewhere. We are to pray like this, Jesus said. So this serves as a model for our prayers. It is not that we copy and recite verbatim this prayer every time when we worship God. But we often end our worship with this Lord’s Prayer. Our worship services may include other prayers and intercessions as we may like. But the Lord’s Prayer serves as a model or pattern before us in our worship time or any other ‘Prayer’ time session or so on. We do well to incorporate all the elements in that prayer in our prayers that we make when we make them.
The Lord’s Prayer has again has two main parts: the first part in to do with God and the second concerns our needs in this world that we may worthily live for his glory and praise and also for our own good.
To acknowledge and address God as ‘Father’ means we have most intimate spiritual relationship with him. Our trust and dependence is on him absolutely. We work; we use our faculties, our brain, mind, heart and strength that he has given us. But he has given us also faith in him. He can do all that we cannot. The element of faith and trust in God is the heart and soul of our prayers to him.
We have accessibility to him. We have various limitations. We come before his throne of grace and mercy with our limitless limitations because we are unable and he is able to do that we cannot do. He is not a distant God. He dwells in our minds and hearts. But we must not take our personal relationship for granted. We need to do our best to live our lives as he wills us to. God was thought of one who is remote from the people. But he is also close to us. It depends on the condition of our heart and our attitude towards him. He must be supremely revered in awe and wonder. We do not know all about him. His name must be hallowed by us. This is the first of all the seven petitions in the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus saw that God’s name was not hallowed enough in his society. But we must seriously ponder over this as we today pray to him that his name is hallowed in our lives, thoughts, deeds and intentions. If we do not do that our prayer will merely be sham or a lip-service!
We are taught to pray for his Kingdom (rule) to come in this world of his creation. We pray for that the kingdom of God and his righteousness may come. We should try to fulfill his holy will in this world. We should seek to do his will, seek his kingdom of peace, righteousness and justice.
We pray for our daily food. God does not like that we become so selfish that we ignore the needs of others. However, the prayer itself uses the pronoun ‘Our’ not ‘Mine’. This implies that it has the corporate nature in it. Everyone must have some food. In God's world all creatures need food to live on. Our prayer is that God may provide everyone the basic necessary food. But we have a world where some have too much of food, wealth or amenities and opportunities while too many have too little of all these. That’s why we need to do his holy will; we need to revere his name and the like.
We are to pray God’s protection for us against the devil, which tempts us. This is of great significance in our lives as the devil operates in our minds and hearts. Only God, the Almighty can grant us real strength, spiritual power to deliver us from the evil One, Satan. We must continue to pray for our world where there is so much selfishness, jealousy, violence, injustice, crimes. May good God lead us to be sincere in everything!
The writer is a Christian Theology teacher and church leader