A FATHER’S EAR
Pray the Lord’s prayer.
Read Matthew 6:5–15
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectA hypocrite was once a masked actor playing a stage role to entertain the audience. How could that relate to your prayer life?
As Jesus offers the Lord’s Prayer—or, better, the Disciple’s Prayer—he uses striking contrasts. One is the preferred place for prayers; another is the prayer’s word count; and the third is the expectation a disciple brings to the prayer.
First, Jesus reminds us how the Father is personally de-voted to us. So he prefers private places for conversation, not crowds. Second, he reminds us that the Father doesn’t need to be educated, so a few brief and heartfelt words are enough for him. And, finally, he already knows our needs, so prayers don’t inform him. Instead it’s our chance to embrace him as a caring Father.
Notice each feature. We ask God for his point of view, for his continuing providence, for our own moral change and for his spiritual protection. And we abandon hypocrisy.
We’re invited to find more secret time with God to pray. Toss away any masks and enjoy his company. Just take some time to wait in his presence and have a companionable conversation with him.
Using Jesus’ method of prayer as outlined in the chapter, make your thoughts and needs known to God as you meet in prayer.
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