When the disciples asked Jesus to help them pray, he invited them to pray with him. By encouraging us to call God our father, not his or my father, Jesus united us as sisters and brothers with him and in him. The Lord's prayer is powerful and as much a pattern of how to pray as a prayer itself.
When we remember to acknowledge and hallow God's name, we cannot help but begin in the beginning. God is both the source and end of our prayer, and when we submit ourselves to God's power we also pray that God's kingdom will be built. Only then are we free to ask God to help us with our daily needs. While we often get prayer backward by putting our fears, concerns and needs first, the Lord's prayer helps us to the path Jesus desires for us.
While there should be no doubt that the Our Father is a beautiful prayer that we can repeat over and over, we should not be afraid to experiment with other forms of prayer. Ritual and body prayer can be very helpful in reminding us who God is and what God asks. Dipping our fingers in holy water and blessing ourselves, lighting a candle to celebrate God as light in the darkness, bowing before the tabernacle, and breaking bread at the Eucharist are all powerful ways of folding prayer into the everyday actions of our life.
Meditation, petition and quiet prayer, in which we say nothing but ask God to draw closer to us so that we might know God more deeply and serve God and God's people more fully, are also important. While we can always return to the Lord's prayer, especially when our minds are cluttered with worry or business, any kind of prayer that helps us honor God each day is necessary and powerful.
Today, say the Our Father slowly and meditatively.
What form of prayer most helps you be aware of and responsive to God's desire for the world?