Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver from the evil one” (Matthew 6:9-13).

 

Reb Yeshua bar Yosef attracted crowds everywhere he went.  Along the Lakeshore of Galilee in Palestine thousands pressed around him to hear his words.  On one occasion he commandeered a fishing boat and asked the fishermen who operated it to pull it off shore so he could address the throng that had gathered to hear him.  His teachings rang with a fresh joy, and he backed everything he said with uncompromising authority and – some said – miraculous powers.  Expectations about Yeshua rippled throughout Galilee.  Might he be the One promised by ancient prophets who would bring freedom and prosperity back to Israel? 

 

Yeshua was a carpenter by trade.  But at the age of 30 he had left his native Nazareth to take up the role of itinerant teacher, or rabbi.  Rabbinic ministry was a respectable occupation for a Jewish man in Israel in first century A.D.  By all accounts, at least in the early months of his work, he was widely esteemed.  Like other teachers of his time Yeshua invited young men to leave their families and join him as he traveled instructing the people in the ways of God.  His process of training was familiar to them.  For he taught as other rabbis taught.  He told stories to relay eternal truth.  And he explained his messages on the run, by first modeling the principles in his own actions, then challenging his followers to do the same, then finally interpreting the meaning to the wider audience. 

 

Yeshua (Jesus in English) was a master teacher.  Like all great teachers he somehow managed to lead his students to ask the very questions he was eager to answer for them.  So when Jesus’ followers finally realized that prayer was the secret to his power and authority for ministry they asked, “Rabbi, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).  When they asked, Jesus was primed with an answer they could immediately put to practice.  

 

“Our Father in heaven…”

 

His words are familiar to many of us.  Even irreligious people recognize the rote

and rhythm of the lines often called the Lord’s Prayer, the Pater Noster or the “Our Father”  But beneath these four lines rests something much richer than words for recitation.  What Jesus is offering here is a kind of template for our dialog with God.

 

How can these simple lines help frame our understanding of God and how we can relate with him?

“Our Father”

“May your name be worshipped!

“May your regime come here to earth in the same way it is in heaven.”

“Give us today everything we need.”

“Forgive our sin, as we forgive others.”

“Lead us away from temptation and from the evil one.”

 Pray these words today… perhaps again, for the first time.

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