Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.
It is only after Jesus slows us down to the speed of our souls...only after Jesus shines a light on prayerfully pondering where we spend our money...that Jesus offers words for us. Words about the holiness of God's name. Words about noticing God's realm among us. Words about letting the melody of God's love be the soundtrack to our lives. Prayers about daily bread (echo of manna in the wilderness) and forgiveness (which is always a tough, touche subject) and about the stress and strain of daily living.
Every week, in our church, we say the Lord's Prayer.
Maybe for some it is rote or routine, where we go on autopilot while considering what is for lunch.
Maybe for some each week, s/he tries to find one word in the prayer to hold onto. Fifty-five words to the prayer...I don't think I have ever offered a pastoral prayer that short!
While many books have been written about this prayer, it is less about trying to understand it and more about entering the words.
Which word stands out to you right now?
Maybe it is the male image of God...although you could also use the New Zealand version which is, "Eternal Spirit, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver, Source of all that is and that shall be. Father and Mother of us all, Loving God, in whom is heaven". (click here to read the full prayer) I love the expansive ways the prayer seeks to name God...the mystery and ground of our being.
Maybe it is the request for daily nourishment...which might be both bread and for those moments to slow down to the speed of our souls.
Maybe what is working in you right now from those 55 words is something in the small space in-between. Not an actual word, but something from within you that is calling/crying out.
One prayer practice is recite these words each day as a way to work with them and let them sing to your life. You could use Matthew's version or the New Zealand or try to write your own version.
One prayer practice is to pick one word to focus and reflect upon.
One prayer practice is to take the Lord's Prayer for a walk, saying the words with each foot strike of the pavement.
One prayer practice is to talk to others about these words. What does s/he hear? What do you hear?
One prayer practice is to sing the Lord's Prayer...or to listen to it being sung
One prayer practice is to draw these words...write them in different colors...paint them or go capture photos of how you see these words at work in the world...or just play around with them.
Maybe one of the practices above will help you slow down to the speed of your soul...and open you to more than a trace of God's grace.