Grace and Peace from our Lord Jesus Christ be to you this day!
Our Father, who art in heaven….When those few words are said to a group of people, especially those who have spent some time within the church, they automatically know it is time to chime in …hallowed be thy name. The Lord’s Prayer is probably the most widely known prayer there is, but what its purpose is may often get over looked.
Over the last few months we have been exploring the basic teachings of the Christian faith through the lens of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. We have been confronted with our disease of sin through the Ten Commandments, we have realized the cure for that disease in the Triune God as described in the Creed, but where do we then go from there? Since God’s cure cannot be made full until we meet God face to face in heaven, we still have to live in a world full of sin. This is very trying for those who seek to live a life pleasing to God knowing full well we will never be able to do so. If only there was a way we could communicate to God in order for God to help us in our struggle! Oh, wait there is! We can communicate with God through prayer. However, there are times when we do not know what to pray for or even how to pray.
In both the gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus’ disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray the way he does. They recognize that Jesus has a bond with the Father that they do not and they would like to. They notice that this bond comes from the time in which Jesus spends in prayer. So they thoughtfully deduce that it is through prayer that they can have that same bond. At his disciples request Jesus teaches them how to pray; he teaches them what we now call the Lord’s Prayer.
With a few modifications, the words that Jesus used are the same words that we still use today. Whether Jesus meant for these words to be used verbatim or be used as a form, we can never really know. But what we can know for sure is that this is a prayer we can fall back on when everything around us seems to be going wrong; when we know we need to pray to God for help and guidance, but we do not know the right words to say. Whether we are aware of it or not, when we use the words that Jesus taught we are effectively praying for everything we need.
In total there are seven petitions that make up the Lord’s Prayer. In the months ahead we will start taking a look at these petitions to understand how they allow us to communicate with God whatever is on our hearts and minds, even in those times when we do not know what is on our hearts and minds.