St. Paul's Lutheran Church

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“Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” – Matthew 6:9

Jesus is the author of this prayer in every respect. And because He provided this prayer, it is the most perfect prayer there is. If Jesus, the good Teacher could have taught us a better one, He would have.

Now, one need not use the exact words of this prayer, such that any prayer that sways from this prayer is worthless. After all, many lived and believed prior to Christ’s teaching this prayer. But let us be careful in our praying that we do not drift from the meaning of this prayer. Even the psalms which were written as liturgical prayers, many of which are to be sung, express the same meaning as the prayer our Lord taught us, though with different words. And it is quite valuable to pray through the psalms regularly.

But it is wrong to consider other prayers superior to this one. It is especially wrong to seek out those prayers that are filled with pomp and showiness. As a show of “true conviction” some have puffed up their own words and actions in order to make their praying appear “filled with the Spirit” or godlike when all they’re doing is mocking our Lord and trampling on the perfect and simple prayer He taught.

Praying must be from the heart, but it must also be in pious and godly words. Praying ecstatically, or repeating words over and over, or appearing to “mean it” when you pray does not make the prayer. In fact, nothing of the person praying makes the prayer. This is why the disciples asked to be taught how to pray and the Lord’s response was giving them a simple, easy to remember and easy to recite prayer which covers everything we are to ask for as believers. If you are unsure what to pray, or if you fall for the temptation of making prayer into a show for others to marvel, take a step back and simply pray the Lord’s Prayer. Pray it with your heart — in other words, believe the words you pray are heard by God and He answers them — consider the words, and since it is all the Lord’s living and active Word, allow it to change your life for the better.

Humble Christ, teach me to pray as You pray so that my focus is on You and Your Word rather than gaining praise from others. Amen.

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