The Lord’s prayer is recorded in Matthew 6:9-13 and a shorter version in Luke 11:2-4. Matthew 6: “And when you pray… Pray then like this.” The prayer in Luke is a response to the disciples’ request, “Lord, teach us to pray.”
Matthew 6:9-13: Pray then like this:
“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 lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
The Lord’s prayer is an example of how to pray. When I pray the Lord’s prayer, I expand on each request to make it my prayer. Sometimes I don’t finish praying it because I expand on one request and then forget where I was in the prayer. For example, I will pray “May Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” and expand on that request by praying for God’s will to be desired and done on earth in my family, among my friends, in my church and nation, and world missions.
My expanded versions of this prayer seem to contradict what Jesus taught before he gave the prayer (Matthew 6:5-8): “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
Jesus gave a simple, straightforward prayer. It contains every important request. It can be prayed or recited in 10 seconds without much thought. My expanded prayers are not empty repetition offered to manipulate the gods. I have heard and watched Buddhist praying in Hong Kong; that’s empty repetition. I have heard and watched Islamic prayers in a mosque; that’s empty repetition. The Lord’s prayer can become empty repetition. My expanded versions make me really think about each request and draw me into the presence of the Lord.
I will continue to write a meditation on each request of the prayer; that is, how I make it my prayer.