I’ve mentioned before that I’m a firm believer in prayer.  My favorite is The Lord’s Prayer.  It covers everything.  It’s the prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray when they asked Him to teach them how to pray. 

I pray this prayer often as an ending to my personal prayers.  I also like to sing it (when I’m home alone, of course!) slowly and intentionally, offering my heart to God through prayer song.

Most of us who were raised in the church have been reciting this prayer since childhood.  Recitation is a great thing.  It commits words to our memories so that they’re available on demand when needed.  However, recitation can also dull the mind to the meaning and impact of the very words we’re saying if recited mindlessly from memory.  This can be especially true of the Lord’s Prayer since most of us learned it as the King James Version, using words that we might not even know.  We’re so used to reciting the prayer, that we don’t realize we might not fully understand what we’re saying! 

Today I’d like to break it down and paraphrase it for you, verse by verse, and encourage you to give new thought to what you’re saying when you recite this prayer.  It is taken from Matthew 6:9-13, King James Version.

Our Father, Which art in heaven     Our Father, who is in heaven

Hallowed by thy name        Your name has been made Holy.  How awesome is Your name!

Thy kingdom come.     May Your way be the way of this world. 

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.    Lord, help us to bow down to you as the angels do, according to Your will, not our own.   Thy will be done, not my will be done.

Give us this day our daily bread.    Our trust is in You to give us what we need – not seeking more or wanting extra.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.     Forgive us of our sins and help us to forgive those who have sinned against us.

And lead us not into temptation,    Help us to resist temptation.

but deliver us from evil:      Protect us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,    For You have the power over all the kingdom.

and the power, and the glory for ever.    To You be the power and the glory forever!

Amen.      May these things be so. 

Following is a more personal, paraphrased way of praying the The Lord’s Prayer.  It’s how I end my personal prayer time.

My Father, who is in heaven, how awesome is Your name!  May Your kingdom come and YOUR will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Please give me this day my daily bread.  Forgive me of my sins as I forgive those who have sinned against me.  Lead me not into temptation and deliver me from evil.  For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever!  Amen. 

Be sure to teach The Lord’s Prayer to your children, too.  We attend a contemporary praise worship.  I love our worship services, but this service doesn’t include the traditional recitations that I grew up with. * I miss saying the Lord’s Prayer in fellowship with others and I worry that today’s children will grow up not knowing this prayer. If your children are not learning The Lord’s Prayer in church, be sure to teach it to them at home.      

One of the most heartwarming experiences I’ve had was at the conclusion of Vacation Bible School the year we taught the Lord’s Prayer to almost 400 children – ages 5 – 11.  They learned it verse-by-verse, learning a new verse each day, until they were able to say the entire prayer.  On the last day parents joined us in the sanctuary for a closing program.  The children were seated around the balcony and the parents were seated below. Tears rolled down my cheeks as the sound of their precious voices filled the sanctuary as they said the Lord’s Prayer with all the sweetness and charm that children possess.  I just can’t describe the joy I felt in my heart knowing that those children had learned not only to say the Lord’s Prayer, but also to understand the meaning of the words they were saying.

I hope you’ll take a few quiet moments to really PRAY the Lord’s Prayer, not just recite it.  When we pray we are going before the Lord.  Don’t let that be mindless time!  Be present with your thoughts and let the words speak from your heart.

Keep the Lord’s Prayer handy in your mind, taking it everywhere you go, just like you do your cell phone, so you have it available when needed for yourself and others, too!

Dear Lord, Thank You for teaching us how to pray and giving us Your prayer to pray.  May we take it to heart and appreciate the worthiness of its meanings, claiming them for ourselves and others in Your holy name.   Amen.