March 14, 2015

Lord, Teach Us to Pray

Luke 11:1-4

“When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us . . . . Forgive us . . . . And lead us . . .”

—  Luke 11:2

Many people know this prayer by heart. In worship, believers often recite it in unison. Both Matthew (6:9-13) and Luke recorded Jesus' prayer lesson for his disciples. We call it "The Lord's Prayer," but it could also be called "The Disciples' Prayer," since Jesus was teaching them how to pray.

Even before Jesus begins this prayer, Luke makes an important point. "One day Jesus was praying in a certain place." His disciples saw that Jesus was a man of prayer. And they knew he could teach them.

As a discipline, prayer goes with solitude and meditation. The disciples wanted to know how to commune with God when they were alone with him. Interestingly, Jesus doesn't say, "Just memorize this brief prayer." Nor does he claim that it covers all we should ask of our Father. But it does convey the essence of prayer and is well worth memorizing.

Notice that the first petition doesn't ask anything for ourselves, but only for God's honor: "Make your name holy" ("hallowed"). Above all, disciples seek to uphold God's holiness and pray that his kingdom will come. Then come requests for the basics: daily needs; forgiveness as we forgive; and leading away from evil to full life in God's kingdom.

Do you want to get closer to Jesus? Learn this prayer.

Father, hallow your name in our lives! Provide all we need in order to be the people you call us to be for your kingdom here on earth. In Jesus, Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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