"Pray then in this way:
, who is in heaven, hallowed be Your
name. Your Kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as
it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily
bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have
forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into
temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is
the Kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.'"
Grab the reader's attention.
Start strong. Startle, shock,
or disorient. The opening two words of
the Lord's Prayer does this and more. Two
small words -- just nine letters in all --
gatecrash our prayerful indifference.
"Dear God" lacks intimacy, energy,
and vitality. It's generic, impersonal, distant,
and detached. But "Our Father" cuts through
private piety and reserved religiosity. It unsettles the
serenity of my selfishness. It propels me out of
isolation, into intimacy.
While private prayer has a
place (see Matt 6.6), the little word "our"
guarantees that prayer embraces others. It forces
me to consider us. "Me and God" may
be acceptable in a culture of Lone Rangers, but
"us and the Father" means that prayer -- as taught
by Christ -- is also a community event.
"Our" binds us together. "Our" becomes the
glue between "me" and "them." It jolts us to
recall that we stand together before God with all
His children - equally, interdependently, without
favoritism or exception. "Our" levels the playing
field. It erases distinctions, labels, and status
issues. It renders us the same. "My" expresses
exclusivism. "Our" is the language of
The parental term oozes
unexpected intimacy. Something less familiar
feels more appropriate (perhaps "God"
or "Holy Divine One"), but
the gospel calls us to a family reunion
not a meeting with the CEO. Truly
good news restores intimacy to lives dried out by
detachment. Is there a more gospel word then
The combination of the two terms binds us
together as family, and refuses to validate
private faith. "Our Father ..." acknowledges a
new community to which we now belong,
When Jesus said "Pray in this way," He disturbed
the comfortable solitude of spiritual elitism.
Christ refuses to endorse any pursuit of holiness
or godliness that does not include community. He
"Our Father ..." snaps us out
of complacency, privatism, and segregation. The
words tumble forth with warmth, invitation,
connection, closeness, and community.
Our faith finds
its footing in our Father.
Two small words -- an inch of lettering --
that bridge our seclusion from each other and the
Lord. May we meditate on them, respond to them,
and be molded by them. It's