If we were to write the Lord’s prayer according to what we really pray (including me), it would probably read like the following:
“Father, give me today my daily bread and tomorrow’s bread too.
Deliver me from evil people.
In Jesus’ name Amen.”
Then if we pulled out our Greek geek selves we might do a word study on “father” and delve deeper into this intimate meaning of “Daddy” or “Abba.”
It’s a good start. But we all must grow from there.
The first thing I’m struck with about the Lord’s prayer is it’s corporate nature. When we think of prayer, we almost always tend to think of it in terms of our individual relationship with the Father. But this isn’t the Lord’s prayer. Read it again noticing the words of community:
“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 forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
For if you (plural) forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Mt 6:9-14
Now it could be that as he was addressing the group, he meant the corporate teaching to be individualized. But consider that Middle Eastern culture is a relationship, group-centered culture, I’m not so certain.
So with that I wondered what it would be like for me not to pray “My Father” or just “Father” but to begin praying “Our Father.” Just trying this once and immediately perspective changed. As I say “our” I think of my brothers and sisters who are being killed for their faith right now. I also think of the people in my life that I like and don’t like. I think of the nation I live in.
It means my prayers I am praying are greater than myself. The answers God gives are not just about me. It is about the “we” and the “our” and the “us.” It creates sense of corporate responsibility with corporate blessings. Maybe a new way of praying could actually be rediscovering the old.