When you pray, say: Prayer series Part I

“In this manner therefore pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name” Matthew 6:9 NKJV 
He said to them: “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” Luke 11:2a. (NKJV)

Many who have attended church sometime in their life have most likely heard the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13 & Luke 11:1-4). As children, we often repeated it in public school (when we did those things), in Sunday School, or as adults while in worship. We may have been taught to say it as the catchall prayer when we did not know what to say. However, how many of us have reflected deeply on what Jesus taught? 

We know that words, statements, stories, etc., found in the Bible are not placed there accidentally but have a meaning, so what was the significance of these words? I do not believe that when Jesus said, “In this manner, therefore pray “, or “When you pray, say,” that He suggested this was the only prayer we would say. He warns us in Matthew 6:5 about the hypocrisy and vanity some display when they pray to be seen or repeat phases, hoping God will hear. His guidance reminds us to acknowledge the omnipotence and grace of God, to take the focus off ourselves and turn it to God. 

The apostles would have learned and recited the Hebrew prayers in synagogues. So why did they need to be taught? They noticed Jesus prayed differently. He prayed short and long prayers in the language of the times at different hours and locations. He used the expression “our Father” which may have been surprising to them. It seems simple for Christians to refer to God as “our Father”, and we have been taught that way since we accepted Christ. We don’t give God’s title a second thought but to His first disciples, it may have seemed out of place. However, when Jesus was asked by His disciples to teach them to pray, he instituted a new way of praying. 

Two major Abrahamic religions, Judaism, and Islam, use a sacred language in their prayers. Jews pray in Hebrew while Muslims pray in an ancient Arabic tongue. Jesus lived in a world where the public reading of the Bible was only in Hebrew, and prayers had to be offered in that language. However, when He invited the disciples to call God Abba (our father/my father), He took the giant step of endorsing Aramaic as an acceptable language for prayer and worship. He opened the door for the New Testament to be written in Greek (not Hebrew) and then translated into other languages. Ancient languages or customs do not bind Christians as Jesus implies, we are free to worship as we are.  

There is a deeper meaning, not a hidden one, in the Lord’s prayer. Over the next few weeks, you are invited to join us as we dissect the Lord’s Prayer and share tips that may change how you understand this prayer and how you pray in general.  (see below for the first tip)

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