Is this simply a prayer recited by many, under varying circumstances or might there be more to these words then fits our eye? We find this prayer in Matthew 6 and again in Luke 11. The disciples were being instructed by Jesus. We have in these two books and chapters a record of Jesus’ lessons and more. There is so much in this discussion with Jesus’ disciples many simply overlook or don’t take for the same value as the Lord’s Prayer which itself is within the same chapters.
The lessons and advice is very pointed but we seldom get beyond the Lord’s Prayer. Why? It is too obvious. We want what fits our lives but not what goes against our preferred lifestyle, attitudes and way of worship; or secular lives. We repeat the prayer out of habit or in our form of worship but seldom listen to what is being recited. The circumstances (Luke 11:1): Jesus had just finished praying and “one of his disciples said to him. ‘Lord, teach us to pray”. This is a chapter break in Luke, but in Matthew the same request does not come until after a brief explanation of when, how and what to pray.
Jesus also gives a comparison with how NOT to pray. In Matthew 6:5 Jesus tells his disciples that hypocrites pray for the purpose of being observed and/or heard by Father George Rutler others. This verse ends with “Truly I say to you, they have received their reward.” What reward? Not an answered prayer but being observed by others as pious and some sort of wonder for the loud and open prayer in the church or on the street corner.
In Matthew a couple of verses prior to the Lord’s Prayer, there is a lesson that serves well with which to connect. Verse one states, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will *have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. In the Greek this loosely translated means: God will not be beholding to give a pat on the back for his or her praying yet alone listen to or answer their prayer.
John 4:24 states:”God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit… ” When one understands this verse in John, it might make one look differently at the opening two words of the Lord’s Prayer, “Our father” Let me explain. God the Father is a spirit. He created us and blew breath and spirit into our being. All creation is from him so regardless of one’s denomination or seminary, if any, he fathered all spirits too.
God created man in his own image. In God’s image he created him; male and female he created them… Yahweh God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 1:1-3, 1:26-27 & 2:7.
I like how Ian Johnson connects breath and spirit. Although the Hebrew rendered “breath” is a different word from that rendered “spirit” in Genesis 1:2, both have similar underlying meanings, and in Psalm 104:29-30 the same word rendered “spirit” in Genesis 1:2 is translated both “breath” and “Spirit” in the same context: “when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. When you send your Spirit, they are created… “