Jesus has just told his followers that when they pray they are not to babble on and on like those who think they will heard for their many words. Then he gives a simple 5–sentence example of how to pray. This prayer (it is the “Lord’s Prayer” in that it was provided by him, not necessarily one he prays) has undoubtedly been prayed more often in more places and more frequently than any other prayer in history. Of the many interpretive observations that have been made about the prayer I select only a few.
It is a corporate prayer rather than an individual prayer (“Our Father”)
The first half is directed to God and the second half is concerned with our needs
To God we pray that his authoritative rule in heaven be realized here on earth
For ourselves we ask simply that our personal and basic needs be met
We ask for forgiveness on the basis that we have forgiven others.
We ask that we not face temptation that we are unable to meet and that we be kept safe from the Evil one.
The former benediction was not part of the original text
In many ways it is a simple prayer that recognizes the priority of God’s concerns and is modest as to our own. That doesn’t describe how the church has used it through the centuries but of course that doesn’t change what Jesus taught.
I’ve always been struck that the Lord's Prayer begins – “Our Father.” This suggests that prayer is a communal activity. Whenever believers gather to pray God is with us. We talk to a God who is willing to be addressed in simple terms. I know of no other religion that poses such a relationship between their god and those who would worship him. “Our Father” speaks of a family bond. I can picture two young children sitting in their father’s lap. They share with him not as though he were some some far off deity but as kids with their dad. They excitedly lay out their plans for the family’s week-end trip. It is as bright and happy picture as possible. Have you ever heard prayer like that in your local church? Obviously, not all prayer should fit that model (there are Gethsemane moments and high church occasions) but normally prayer should be more like a family gathering. What do you think?