Judges 16 – 1 Samuel 8; Luke 8:4 – 11:36
This week in our “Through the Bible” reading we heard the request of the disciples for Jesus to teach them how to pray (Lk. 11:1). There is something breathtaking about that request, isn’t there? Imagine for a moment. Jesus. The incarnate Son of God and Israel’s messiah teaching you how to pray. I don’t know about you, but I would muster all of my attention and concentration. And here it is, recorded for us, in a sort of shorthand way, an outline for prayer.
It might be helpful for us to revisit the question of why we pray the Lord’s Prayer in our worship services. Honestly, I feel a little weird defending the practice of reciting the Lord’s Prayer in our services. No one seems to mind when an elder prays one of Paul’s prayers or when we recite the Psalms, but when the Lord’s Prayer comes out, the Catholic meters start going wild. This was driven home to me recently when I heard a message wherein the preacher mocked churches that pray the Lord’s Prayer. Hopefully, this will not only explain why we do what we do, but also encourage you and infuse your prayer life with freshness.
Jesus instructed us to use the Lord’s Prayer as a model for our own prayers. On one occasion, the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). He neither gave them the prayer of Jabez, nor did he tell them, “Just go pray any old way you want.” Rather, he said, “When you pray, say, ‘Father, hallowed be your name…’” (Luke 11:2-4). As we take the time to memorize and meditate on this prayer, it becomes part of the fabric of our being and it shapes our prayer life in a way that is not often consciously recognized. In this way, it further fulfills the catechetical requirement of the church, producing well-informed disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. As the WSC asks and teaches us to answer: Q. What rule hath God given for our direction in prayer? A. The whole Word of God is of use to direct us in prayer; but the special rule of direction is that form of prayer which Christ taught his disciples, commonly called the Lord’s Prayer (WSC 99). The Lord’s Prayer has always been regarded by Christians as something special and something wonderfully helpful in learning how to pray.
The Lord’s Prayer also gives evidence to the richness of the communion of the saints.
The Lord’s Prayer also gives evidence to the richness of the communion of the saints. With one voice, we all pray the same prayer. We are one, and our oneness is uniquely manifested in this recitation. What’s more, we also give evidence that our communion of the saints extends beyond the four walls of our church. Other churches throughout the country and the world will petition God today using these same words. Further, churches throughout the centuries have been using the Lord’s Prayer in worship. In doing likewise, we consciously unite with them in a common confession. Perhaps this communal nature is nowhere more pronounced than in our children’s active participation. Though they might not be able to read, they can pray and they have been taught how to pray by praying the Lord’s Prayer together with us.
We must admit that there is a danger in rote prayers. But there is a danger in spontaneous prayers, too. The prayer Jesus gave, when properly used, serves as a guide to keep our prayers in line with the will of God and protects us from the dangers and errors of thoughtless communication with our Triune God. Therefore, let us come boldly before the throne of grace (Heb. 4:15), making our requests known and always praying that, in all things, God will be glorified through Jesus Christ.
Next week’s reading: Samuel 9 – 24; Luke 11:37 – 14:24