The Lord's Prayer
In the six weeks between Easter Sunday and Pentecost we will be looking at the prayer Jesus taught his disciples often called the “Lord’s Prayer” or the “Our Father.”
The Lord’s Prayer is generally seen as a template to use to shape our daily praying. It is seen as a template because, though most Christian traditions recite this prayer in worship, there is never any record in the New Testament of Christians actually praying this prayer. Hence, it is understood that our Lord was not merely giving us a few sentences to memorize and recite, as meaningful as that can be. He was providing us with a pattern to follow so that our prayers to God will be rich, deep, and comprehensive.
Virtually all of the historic catechisms of the Christian Church (Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox) devote an entire section to teaching believers how to employ the various petitions of the Lord’s Prayer in their personal and corporate prayer lives. In other words, the Church has always considered a solid grasp of the Lord’s Prayer to be essential to spiritual flourishing.
Another Scriptural resource for learning to pray is the book of Psalms, commonly referred to as “the prayer book of the Bible.” Lutheran pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Now there is in the Holy Scriptures one book that differs from all other books of the Bible in that it contains only prayers. That book is the Psalms…. The Psalms have been given to us precisely so that we can learn to pray them in the name of Jesus Christ.”
For years, Christians have found ways to meld together what we learn about prayer in the Psalms with what we learn in the Lord’s Prayer. They have been astonished to see that the various petitions of the Lord’s Prayer can be voiced and amplified by praying the Psalms. Martin Luther said, “[The Psalter] runs through the Lord’s Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer runs through the [Psalter], so that it is possible to understand one on the basis of the other and to bring them into joyful harmony.”
In this six-week sermon series, we will be learning to pray through the Lord’s Prayer. After an introductory glance at the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6, we will study the various petitions of the Lord’s Prayer by examining different Psalms that help us to pray them.
As we learn about prayer, it is vital that we actually be praying. Jesus did not teach us to pray by writing a book on prayer or by conducting a weekend training seminar on the subject. He taught us to pray by giving us a prayer to use, and to use on a daily basis. By doing this, he showed that we learn to pray by praying.