Hardly anything is more familiar in the New Testament than the Lord’s Prayer. It’s familiar because it is often prayed. Many Christians pray it in unison at least every Sunday.
In Matthew 6, after giving a warning about praying like the hypocrites pray–drawing attention to themselves, babbling like pagans–Jesus provides his simple prayer as a model: “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. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one, for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:9-13, NIV)
Another instruction Jesus gives in Matthew 6 is this: “And when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)
I’m sure many Christians–many of you–pray in secret every day, perhaps numerous times. But do you pray the Lord’s Prayer? There’s certainly nothing wrong with praying this prayer in unison with other Christians in public worship, and there’s nothing wrong with praying other prayers, speaking to the Father about specific things on your minds and in your hearts. But Jesus seems to say in Matthew 6 to pray what we call the Lord’s prayer in secret, while we are alone.
Praying the Lord’s Prayer in secret every day, it seems to me, is a valuable religious practice. It more closely follows the manner in which Jesus taught it. And praying that way is more likely to cause us to think carefully about each word we’re praying and lead us into other meaningful, simple prayers.
If you’re not already praying the Lord’s Prayer this way, try it, and see what you think.