I feel that Jesus did not intend for the disciples to feel bound by a particular form of words. This is based on Jesus’ teachings on prayer and examples of his own prayers found in all of the Gospels. Jesus’ words in response to the disciples’ request, “Lord, teach us to pray,” are intended, I believe, as examples and guidelines to use and to expand upon when we pray.
Jesus taught his disciples to acknowledge God as their heavenly Father. When we pray this prayer we also acknowledge God as Father, and honor his Name as holy. We acknowledge God as Lord, reigning over heaven and earth.
We ask God for the daily food that nourishes us, and we thank him for our sustenance, physically and spiritually.
In our relationship to God, our relations with one another, and our feelings towards ourselves, we ask God’s forgiveness for our failures, for our omissions, our sins and our negligence. We do this as we try our best to be forgiving towards others.
Finally, as in this shorter form of this prayer in Luke’s Gospel, we pray that in our many temptations we may not be brought to the time of trial. We ask that we not be tempted beyond or ability to resist.
The Lord’s Prayer is a component part of all of our formal worship. It is also found in most books of private devotion for individuals or for small groups to use for personal intercessions or informal gatherings for prayer. But it is not intended to be the only prayer we use. It is only a starting place.
As you consider using Jesus’ teachings on prayer as guidelines, as they were given to his disciples, I hope that they can be useful to you in keeping your prayers focused and in learning to avoid long rambling prayers.
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