Do you remember the first time you prayed? I do. I remember lying in bed as a small child, perhaps three or four, and asking God to take care of my nana in heaven. When I think back on this, I find it somewhat peculiar. We weren’t a family who prayed together, not even before meals. I don’t remember either of my parents praying with me or encouraging me to pray at bedtime. But somehow I did it anyway, not just that one time, but often.
When I got older, I did go to Sunday School, and I think that must be where I learned the Lord’s Prayer by heart. For my trouble, at the end of the year, I received a bookmark, with the prayer printed on it (nearly identical to the one with the 23rd Psalm).
Prayer marks nearly every significant moment in Jesus’ life. Jesus is remembered across the Gospels as one who prayed. The version of the Lord’s prayer which we have in our Gospel reading from Luke, is a shorter, more compact one than in Matthew’s. While Matthew’s version is situated during the Sermon on the Mount, Luke’s version take place as the disciples are traveling. They ask Jesus “Lord, teach us to pray” and Jesus replies:
“Father, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial” (11:2b-4).
This prayer was not only for the disciples then, but for Christians throughout the ages. Jesus has given us a way to pray, a prayer model: words to address God, words to praise God, and then finally, words to petition God. Address, praise, petition. This model can work with different words. Try it. Is this the only way to pray? No, certainly not. But it can be a good start if we get stuck. One thing I am certain our evangelist is saying is that prayer matters. Jesus, we praise you. Teach us to pray. Amen.
Yours in Christ,