Faith seeking understanding

Why the Lord’s Prayer is key to our discipleship

By Brian Rosner

May 8 2018Prayer is possible because we are known by God, and through the Lord’s Prayer we know ourselves as we are known by God, reflects the Revd Dr Brian Rosner, Principal of Ridley College Melbourne.

No one finds praying easy. In Romans 8 Paul himself is realistic about the difficulty of prayer and spells out why praying is so difficult:

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he [God] who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God (vv. 26–27).”

In order to pray effectively we need God’s help not only to overcome our weakness, but also our ignorance: “we do not know what we ought to pray for.” And God facilitates our prayers not only through helping us in our weakness but also by “knowing our heart” (v. 27); that is, our deepest emotions, thoughts and desires. Jesus makes the same point just before a giving a model prayer to his disciples in Matthew 6: “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (v. 8). In other words, being known by God makes prayer possible.

Just as prayer is possible because we are known by God, so also our experience of being known by God is facilitated by prayer. The Lord’s Prayer itself demonstrates the role prayer plays in recalling and rehearsing key aspects of our identity. We do not simply pray to receive good gifts from God. The act of prayer itself reminds us who we are in relation to God:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

Praying the Lord’s Prayer is an exercise in knowing ourselves as we are known, by God. It reminds us to whom we belong, what we are a part of, what we need, and where we are headed.

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