Just as there are sermons worth preaching directly from Holy Scripture (as I wrote about a few days ago), there are prayers worth praying. Perhaps the first one that comes to mind is the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew and Luke.
It seems designed to be used corporately (“our,” “us”), and it is often used that way, particularly during Sunday worship. It has a unifying effect, not only because Christians are praying it together with fellow Christians with whom they go to church, but because the prayer is being prayed with fellow Christians around the world. Think about that. With one voice, in different countries, under dramatically different conditions, using various languages, we lift the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples centuries ago.
Of course, when we do something over and over again, it can lose some of its meaning. We may get to the point of not really thinking about what we’re praying.
One helpful way to avoid that state of affairs is to pray the prayer alone at times, changing “our” to “my” and “us” to “me” or “I.” My father. Give me. Forgive me. As I forgive. Against me. And lead me. Deliver me.
It’s the perfect way to open or end a personal devotion or meditation. We will be led into the presence of God and Christ. It will become our signal that it’s time to commune with our Father and our Savior. It will then strengthen our use of the prayer when prayed corporately.
Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed by thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever.