The Lord’s Prayer is one of the most famous parts, not only of the Sermon on the Mount, but of all of Jesus’ teaching. It’s so well-known that linguists use it to study differences between languages. But the Lord’s Prayer should be of more than theoretical interest to us.
How we pray says a lot about us and about who we’re praying too.
Have you ever had the impression that someone was praying to make you think well of them? Do you ever do that?
Maybe it’s speaking differently to how they normally speak. Or using lots of fancy words. That says that we actually think the people listening to us pray are more important than the God we’re praying to.
Or can you think of prayers that are working really hard to convince God to answer? They’re full of descriptions of the problems that need to be fixed, or reasons why God should answer in a certainly way. It’s like we think God is stingy, that He doesn’t want to answer and normally wouldn’t. But if we say the right things, He just might.
Or maybe we pray like God is uncaring. Like His plan, His commands, actually aren’t that good for us. What really needs to happen is for God to be convinced to do things our way.
All of those problems with prayer come from our misunderstandings, not just about prayer, but about God Himself. Prayer isn’t a way to impression people, to manipulate God or to get what we want. It’s the expression of our relationship with God. So it shouldn’t come from empty religiosity or habit, but from a personal knowledge of God: the God who listens and who cares.
So, where do we start? Jesus says that faithful praying starts by knowing who God is (v5-9). That’ll change our priorities in prayer (v9-10) but also put our real needs into perspective (v11-15).
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