A short reading and prayers for today
Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.
Matthew 6:9 NLT
The Lord’s Prayer is a wonderful model prayer and has been central to Christian worship from the earliest days. In the previous verse Jesus told his disciples that they didn’t need to inform God of anything in their prayers, because he already knows everything. Here he spells out what they should pray about. In the first century there was a guide for Christian living called the Didache which recommended that the prayer should be said three times a day. Christians will vary in their use of the prayer but, whenever we use it, it is exciting to reflect that it takes us back to the words of Jesus himself and to the heart of the kingdom. It is often helpful to pray the prayer very slowly and to use each sentence to trigger our own personal prayers.
The Lord’s Prayer is all about relationship. It begins by looking to God because everything in this prayer flows out of our intimate relationship with our heavenly father. As an Aramaic speaker the word that would have been in Jesus’ mind was Abba. This would have been the word that he had used to address his father, Joseph, and it literally means daddy. It is a warm and intimate word and Jesus is clearly wanting his followers to enjoy that kind of closeness to God.
As we pray to our heavenly daddy we are fully aware that he has a unique status. He is holy, and set apart from anything that is imperfect. So we begin the prayer by affirming that he is to be totally respected, or “hallowed” to use the language that many of us were brought up with. This isn’t merely a recognition of the importance of respecting God’s name but also of the necessity of being obedient to his will. As we pray “our father” we are also affirming that we have brothers and sisters and that we are part of a community of people which wants to live for God.
The Lord’s Prayer should never be said unthinkingly or quickly. It is the prayer for those who are fully committed to putting their heavenly father first in their lives.
How would you describe your personal relationship with God?
Loving heavenly father, we thank you have invited us into such an intimate relationship with you and one another. Amen