Our Father, Padre Nostro, Pai Noso, Notre Père…
This morning’s Bible readings in the Church of England cycle of prayer included Luke 11:1-13 – Where Jesus teaches His disciples about how to pray.
It reminded me of the visit I made to the Pater Noster Church in Israel where the Lord’s Prayer is displayed in over 100 written languages.
It made me think of the things we know that increase our faith and the things we teach the young people around us to give them words to use if they need them.
The disciples knew how to pray. They will have been schooled in it since they were children. They would have been taught the psalms and how to pray with them, taught to pray using passages from the Torah (some of the Old Testament) and there were often set prayers for set days. But something about Jesus praying caught their eye. Something about the way He did it made it different.
Was it because He did it like it was a normal conversation, a heart-felt Godly moment that wasn’t robotic, structured and false?
Jesus would have been schooled in all the prayers they had, but what was different?
The ‘Our Father’, as it is known in many countries, includes everything you need to start you off.
It’s like one of those diet plates that is colour-coded to carbs, protein, veg and cake.
It acknowledges our relationship with God as His children who are loved.
It recognises His amazing nature to give and be generous, whilst understanding that we need Him and to be praying is to be fed by Him.
It seeks to be fed in physical ways, in spiritual ways that lighten our burdens and in practical ways when we have finished praying.
It ends for us today with a reminder that God is forever and His ability to reach out and help is eternal.
But why do we have set prayers when we can pray what we like? For those times when words fail you and you don’t know where to start.
And why do we say it so often? So when we need it, the words will flow out of our memories and into our mouths and remind us to pray.
Then what? Use it as starter, then add in a main course of the things worrying you or troubling you, then ask for a blessing as a pudding!
When people have been sitting in the dentists waiting room they’ve muttered it under their breath.
As they’ve felt alone and afraid in a hospital bed they’ve started with that to fill the silence and then hummed hymns to soothe themselves.
God has given us – throughout the ages and through human writers, psalmists and songwriters – the words to say, the songs to sing and the spiritual food that feeds the soul.
We just need to learn them, share them and use them.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.