Over the years, people have told me that each Sunday the words of the Lord's Prayer strike them in a different way, as a reminder of something that's wrong in their lives, or challenging them to forgive others, to struggle against temptation, to put Christian faith first in life. Sometimes we may not want to say those words, but the rest of the congregation carries us along and, somehow, helps us to face what we need to face.
This pattern for prayer is a precious gift of Jesus. It must be handled with care. Each phrase, whether in Luke's, or Matthew's longer version, is theological dynamite. When we remember and repeat it in church, we make a daring declaration: "This is what we want for the world and for ourselves!"
Martin Luther said, "The Lord's Prayer is the greatest martyr, for everybody tortures and abuses it." How? By becoming so comfortable with it that we pray it without even a thought. When we reduce it to rote recitation, it's just a jumble of pious words. When we pray it carefully, lovingly, it's more powerful than we know!
Pray the Lord's Prayer from Luke 11 slowly, savouring each phrase.
Luke 11:2-4 – Jesus said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.'" Amen.