Now folks, when I was born, I was baptized into the Roman Catholic faith. I thank God and my family for that decision as it instilled a structure of morals into me, of which I managed to not violate about 83% of in my younger years. But with that faith came some education. I can’t recall much of CCD, but I do remember the prayers.
A common misconception I’ve heard in the field of Evangelical Christianity is that we aren’t supposed to pray the “Our Father.” What was proclaimed by Christ in Matthew 6:9-13 was simply a structure, a lesson how HOW we should pray to God – but not WHAT we SHOULD pray. Instead, we should ONLY practice open, specific, free form and flowing prayer for ourselves and others. I agree we should pray in such a manner, but…
“Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven,Matthew 6:8-13
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
The criticism comes as some folks will focus on Matthew 6:7 but entirely dismiss the rest of this chapter!
And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.Matthew 6:7
Let me state clearly, I do not believe there is any prayer to God that should not be made. Call me crazy but if you want to say the “Our Father” at a point in your life when what some might consider a deeper or more artfully worded prayer to be a better option. YOU GO RIGHT AHEAD AND PRAY THE “OUR FATHER.” Have we forgotten one simple truth here?
God knows our hearts. This verse is convicting the street preachers who repeat the prayers to be SEEN praying. To them, CHRIST is SECOND to their vanity and being SEEN. Are we considering the “Our Father” vain repetition here? Is Jesus asking us for vanity here as some seem to think? OF COURSE NOT. HE IS TEACHING US HOW TO PRAY. Yes it is a structure BUT IT IS ALSO A PRAYER!
Before I was saved, at more than a few points in my life where I was engulfed in worry and concern for myself or others, there were moments where from the moment I got into my car to when I arrived at the hospital, I was praying that prayer over and over again. There were other times where I prayed conversationally. Both times, GOD HEARD ME BECAUSE I WAS PRAYING TO HIM!
I’ll make one thing clear here – I mentioned “before I was saved.” In Isaiah 59:1-2, we see the following which indicates that those who have been so blinded by sin that they cannot see God, He will not hear those sinners. So He stitched me together in my mothers womb, but once the weaving was done He turned his back to me? Hooey!
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened,Isaiah 59:1-2
That it cannot save;
Nor His ear heavy,
That it cannot hear.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
And your sins have hidden His face from you,
So that He will not hear.
Someone who seeks God will SEE God. Jesus shared His table with sinners. If you seek Him, HE WILL HEAR YOU. What that passage says is that those who refuse to turn away from their sin will not be heard, but can we be honest for a second? If you’re thinking about God, if you’re turning towards Him even .0000000000001%, HE HEARS YOU. If you’re fully engulfed in sin, you aren’t looking for God, and probably aren’t praying to Him. Blasphemy doesn’t count.
So before I was saved, God’s hand was absolutely in my life. He didn’t wait 39 years to see me or hear me, to guide me or discipline me, but He was right there next to me the whole time and it was only when I fully turned from my past sin did I fully see HIM and PRAISE HIM for His grace and mercy in my life which began before I was even an embryo.
Back to my original point. Even if the “Our Father” did not cover the nuance of my needs, THE FATHER UNDERSTOOD. It doesn’t matter whether man understood my need or my prayer, because I grabbed the red phone and dialed up a direct line to JESUS CHRIST. I realize I am jumping around a bit here but this section of scripture needs to consumed entirely to understand.
“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.Matthew 6:5
So what did we have here, Pharisees out in the streets, praying repetitively not for God to hear them or to know their needs in those moments, TO BE SEEN. Well as Jesus said, they have their reward, for they were most assuredly seen. They prayed loudly to God, they prayed repeatedly to God, they prayed openly to God, but their eyes were on themselves! They did not seek HIS glory, but their own!
But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.Matthew 6:6
What is the takeaway here? What should the takeaway be here? It’s not that you should JUST pray openly, or JUST pray secretly, or that the “Our Father” is OK to pray, it is that you PRAY. You PRAY to His glory! You PRAY to GOD! You set your eyes on HIM when you do it. HE knows your heart before you even ASK. My advice to anyone when another suggests that we should not or must not pray the “Our Father?”
Pray for them, and say an “Our Father” while you’re at it.