When Jesus’ disciples gathered around him one time they made a simple request of him:
“Teach us to pray.” At that he shared The Lord’s Prayer, one that came to be used in Christian worship and personal devotional life from that time until the present. Many Christians pray it daily. And it provides a model for our prayer life. Following is the Lord’s Prayer accompanied by a devotional paraphrase:
Our Father who is in heaven
(O God beyond our knowing, hidden but present in your purposeful power…)
Hallowed be your name
(Holiness goes to the very center of who you are…)
Your kingdom come
(Your reign and presence be known)
Your will be done
(Your ways become our ways)
On earth as it is in heaven
(in the seen even as it is in the unseen)
Give us this day our daily bread
(Meet us at the point of our need)
And forgive us our debts
(and release us from the burden of having hurt others)
As we forgive our debtors
(just as we release them from the unbearable burden of having hurt us)
And lead us not into temptation
(and lead us not to the places where we know ourselves so frail)
But deliver us from evil
(and snatch us from the evil intents of others)
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, amen.
(for you are the beginning, middle and end of everything that is, has been or will be!)
Christians often set aside a dedicated time everyday for reading the scriptures, devotional reading, prayer and meditation. Some respond better to the early morning while others snatch the time they have available, like a few minutes during a lunch hour. In addition, many practice “mini retreats” – minutes in the car, on a walk or in a waiting room – a minute to pause, breath deeply, prayer for those around them and offer themselves to God.
The Psalms continue to provide a prayer language that is universal – from praise to rage, lament to confession – they express our longing for God and God’s longing for us. Many read the Psalms one at a time, pausing to mindfully read one or two verses that speak to them, recalling them throughout the day.
At the end of words it is the practice of centering prayer, of the devotional keeping of holy silence, waiting on God to speak, that often takes us to the deepest places. We practice receiving the gift of silence and receiving the communion we have with the Spirit. This requires attention and letting go of the many distractions. And it reshapes the kind of people that we are living in the world in God.