“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:7-15 i>
I love to listen to children, and I often consider them the greatest theologians. When little ones first learn the Lord's Prayer in Sunday School, you will know, because they will say it loud and proud in church. It has a simple rhythm, a cadence which we can all learn, but it also has a depth of simplicity that changes our lives. We don't have to go to experts to pray. Jesus taught us from the very beginning how to pray and we can follow that model no matter how complicated life can get.
Jesus had a great deal to teach his disciples who grew up with the idea of a intermediary and sacrifice in order to approach God. Now Jesus would have them understand that God was like a loving parent, making them part of a living and loving family. We are invited to imagine ourselves as children in a safe and holy family, one where God's desire is for our health and fullness, daily care and daily forgiveness. Although it is s familiar to us, this prayer has the power to change the world, as we turn to understand that God is as approachable as a loving parent, nearby and always ready to listen.
May today be a day of prayer, a day where every anxiety and concern I have is responded to with simple prayer, trusting that God will hear and respond, like a good father, loving all the children. May we all live as those who know we are loved and cherished, seeing those around us as children too of a loving God, brothers and sisters of one family. May our prayerfulness and vulnerability invite others to know God as a child in a loving home.