Scripture - Luke 11:1-4
1 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say:
“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread,
4 and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
Reflection - Luke describes how Jesus responded to the demands of ministry. After teaching and healing the people, Jesus would “withdraw to desolate places to pray” (Luke 5:16). As Jesus gathered the disciples around him (following a night spent in prayer), those closest to Jesus noticed his habit of prayer. They asked that Jesus would teach them how to pray. His answer is what the Church has come to know as the Lord’s Prayer.
We might summarize Luke’s account of the life and ministry of Jesus as the story of Jesus moving from time of prayer to time of prayer performing miracles in between. If Jesus centered his life and ministry around prayer, can we expect to follow him in any other way? As we consider how we might pray, should we expect any other answer than the one Jesus gave his disciples? Unfortunately, this most familiar prayer can become dry and rote if we become inattentive.
Practice - This week, let us consider how we might learn to pray again as Jesus taught through a contemplative recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. Spend the first few minutes turning your attention fully toward God. Next, begin to slowly pray phrase by phrase through the Lord’s Prayer.
“Our Father…” - Begin by considering that as we pray, we do not pray alone to “My Father.” We pray with the faithful throughout the Church and throughout the centuries. Take this time to be thankful for the great communion of saints who join us in prayer. Consider also the intimacy of calling the creator of the universe, “Father.” Perhaps there are special memories of comfort and protection that you associate with your human father. Savor these. Perhaps there are wounds or disappointments or unmet expectations associated with your human father. Present these to your heavenly Father for healing.
“Who art in Heaven…” - Consider the glory and majesty of God in heaven and the images of worship presented in Scripture. Allow yourself to experience the awe and wonder of God in heaven.
“Hallowed by your Name…” - As you experience both the intimacy and holiness of God, consider what it means for his name to be known and treated as Holy.
“Thy kingdom come…” - Consider now the Kingdom of God which Jesus proclaimed and made manifest. In what ways do we see the Kingdom continuing to be made manifest in our community and the world around us? In what ways do we long for the fullness of the Kingdom to come?
“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” - As you consider the already and not yet nature of the Kingdom of God, listen for the ways that God is calling you to walk in His will. How are you being called and empowered to be an instrument of the will of God today?
“Give us this day our daily bread…” - At this point, it is easy to feel overwhelmed, to allow our minds to race through any number of what ifs as we hear God call us and realize the faith required to walk in obedience. Pause to remember the way in which God provided manna in the desert, enough for each day. As you consider the call of God, what do you need for this day? How might God already be providing for this need?
“Forgive us our trespasses…” - Doubt, fear, distraction, and disobedience prevent us from walking in the way that we know we are called. Consider the ways in which you have trespassed on the will of God. In faith, ask and receive forgiveness.
“As we forgive those who trespass against us…” - As we walk in community, others will hurt or betray us either intentionally or unintentionally. Consider the ways in which you are being called to forgive others. Pray for the strength to forgive and the work of the Holy Spirit to bring reconciliation to broken relationships.
“Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil…” - Consider for a moment this time you have spent in prayer, the love and healing, the calling and nourishment, the celebration and restoration of community. Consider what lies ahead in the rest of the day. In what ways might you be tempted? In what ways might you come into contact with the evil that exists in the world? Pray for God to protect and strengthen you.
Take a time of restful silence to allow God to speak then conclude with thanksgiving and hope for the day ahead.