It’s hard to believe, but in the middle of this month we will once again begin the season of Lent. For many, it is a season of reflection and prayer. A couple of years ago, the title of the front page article in Newsweek magazine was “Talking to God. An Intimate Look at the Way We Pray.” The article indicated that public worship was not enough for Christians. People want more than once a week, public worship in church. People want and need a personal, daily worship life as well. That is, most American people want a deeper intimacy with God. What does that mean?
What I think that means is that people are really interested in prayer throughout all of America. Americans are interested in this spiritual intimacy with God. The world has become crazy - some would say out of control. The world has become too fast, too busy, too plastic, too artificial, too material. Our spiritual life has been on hold too long. There is a craving for intimacy and conversation with God. Similarly, there is that kind of craving for prayer in our fast paced society today.
It is interesting to note that when Jesus took his disciples up on the mountain for the Sermon on the Mount, his disciples did not ask him to teach them about anger. His disciples didn’t ask him to teach about lust or revenge or giving alms. But those first disciples specifically asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. I believe that the first disciples knew that prayer was very important to Jesus. Those first disciples also knew that prayer was the key to Jesus’ own spirituality. They knew that prayer was the key to unlock the power of the Christian life. And so Jesus taught his disciples this model prayer, the very finest prayer he could teach, the prayer we have come to call “The Lord’s Prayer.”
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.
Jesus was teaching us that we need private, personal prayer. We need daily intimacy with God. When you think of it, this isn’t any different from any other intimate relationship that we have. The more you talk, the closer you become. The more conversation, the deeper the friendship.
So this Lenten season, this winter time of inner reflection, if you wish to lift up a prayer, start with the simple, but tried and true words of the Lord’s Prayer. And as you say them, or think them, or pray them, know that you are not alone for God is with you, coming closer with every word.