Matthew 6, 9-14
Something to read
Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
Here's a masterpiece. Like the finest music or painting or drama we have here the very best. Since verse 5, Jesus has been exploring prayer and praying. Now he brings out the essence of his teaching by offering us his way of praying. And this is the prayer learnt across the span of human history, recited in every tongue and in a billion situations.
Here we have a prayer that is of the essence of Christianity; one of our deepest roots and most refreshing wells. This is what praying looks, feels and sounds like. For here is the Son of God showing us how to pray to God as God's children; beloved and heard.
It is short but not simple. We could spend a lifetime dwelling deeply upon these lines and not have discovered all they would teach us. Jesus has warned us against babbling prayers (verse 7) and so now he shows us the opposite of babble; rich and evocative language that carries our hearts to the heart of the Trinity.
God is honoured and acknowledged and our praying and living are set within their proper context within the kingdom of God, a kingdom within which God's will is done so that heaven and earth chime in glorious harmony rather than awful discord. God is turned to for the essentials of our daily living, as basic as the simplest bread.
Praying as sinners we are taught to turn to God for forgiveness but to let forgiveness cascade through us to transform others. We ask God to save us from temptation and from the powers of evil.
One prayer, but a whole lifestyle. Just a few short lines, but a script to challenge us every day through.
Something to do
This may feel a very familiar prayer. Many of us have said it or sung it countless times. So today, let it grab you again. Why not write it out onto a small bit of paper and take it with you through your day?
Regularly, in all the different contexts you find yourself, take out the paper and read it again. Looking at the words can allow a new thought to strike in ways that reciting it from memory may miss. In the different acts of your day, what does the Lord's Prayer do to you? What does it do to the world around you?
Something to pray
Our Father in heaven,
thank you for these most marvellous words,
thank you that we can pray like Jesus.
Help us to let this prayer captivate and astound us all over again.
Challenge and complete our praying.
In Jesus' name we ask it.
Today's contributor is the Rev Neil Thorogood, Principal of Westminster College, Cambridge.