Praying with the Lord's Prayer

The Greatest of Prayers - the Lord’s Prayer

There are many prayers which inspire us and help us to find our own words to pray with, but there’s one which stands above all others - the Lord’s Prayer. It was Jesus’ answer to  his disciples’ request ‘Lord, teach us to pray’ (Luke 11:1-4) and was the foundation of his teaching on prayer in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:5-15). The exact wording of the prayer is different between those two,  and it’s the version from the Sermon on the Mount which we generally use.


Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.

Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever. 

Amen.


Three times a day - or a hundred?

In the early church, it was recommended that all Christians should pause to say this prayer thoughtfully at least three times a day. Some early monks and nuns set themselves rules of saying it a hundred times daily, which most of us would find a bit of a challenge!

Myself, I think that if you were to say this prayer slowly and thoughtfully, meaning every word, three times each day then you would give yourself a very solid foundation of prayer for your life. It includes all the key parts of prayer, and is written with our relationship to God at its centre - a relationship that we have through Jesus, in whose own prayer we’re joining when we use these words carefully.

A prayer and a pattern

As well as being a complete and perfect prayer in itself, the Lord’s Prayer gives us a wonderful structure for our own prayers. You might like to try praying in your own words, but taking up these themes in turn. Or you might simply like to take each of the sections of the prayer (laid out in paragraphs above, which isn’t how we normally write it!

· Start with worship and praise; focus your thoughts on God and his loving majesty;

· Pray for the needs of the world, whether small or great, immediate or long term. Don’t be afraid to pray for big things - the coming of God’s kingdom means the transformation of everything!

· Pray for your own needs, as a small child asking a loving mother or father for what he or she needs;

· Confess your sins to God, ask his forgiveness and ask for help to forgive others;

· Pray for protection from evil and danger, and for strength to follow Jesus closely;

· Come back to worship, praise and thanks, reminding yourself that all things are in God’s hands - so you can safely leave your concerns with him, knowing that your prayer has been heard;

· End with the powerful word ‘Amen’ - ‘May it be so’.

Exploring the greatest prayer

You can find an outline of a way to use the Lord's Prayer by Canon Robert Warren here.

 

 


Prayer for beginners
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