"Our Father who art in heaven."
Don't interrupt me. I'm praying.
BUT-YOU CALLED ME.
"Our Father who art in heaven."
YOU DID IT AGAIN.
CALLED ME. YOU SAID, "OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN."
WELL, HERE I AM. WHAT'S ON YOUR MIND?
But, I didn't mean anything by it. I was, you know, just saying my prayers for the day. I always say the Lord's Prayer. It makes me feel good, kind of like fulfilling a duty.
WELL, ALL RIGHT. GO ON.
"Okay, "Hallowed be Thy name"...
HOLD IT RIGHT THERE. WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?
BY "HALLOWED BE THY NAME"?
It means, it means ... good grief! I don't know what it means. How in the world should I know? It's just a part of the prayer. By the way, what does it mean?
IT MEANS HONORED, HOLY, WONDERFUL.
Hey, that makes sense. I never thought about what 'hallowed' meant before. Thanks.
"Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven."
DO YOU REALLY MEAN THAT?
Sure, why not?
WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT IT?
Doing? Why, nothing, I guess. I just think it would be kind of neat if You got control of everything down here like You have up there. We're kinda in a mess down here, You know.
YES, I KNOW; BUT, DO I HAVE CONTROL OF YOU?
Well.....I go to church.
THAT ISN'T WHAT I ASKED YOU. WHAT ABOUT YOUR BAD TEMPER? YOU'VE REALLY GOT A PROBLEM THERE, YOU KNOW. AND THEN THERE'S THE WAY YOU SPEND YOUR MONEY - ALL ON YOURSELF. AND WHAT ABOUT THE KIND OF BOOKS YOU READ?
Now hold on just a minute! Stop picking on me! I'm just as good as some of the rest of those people at church!
EXCUSE ME. I THOUGHT YOU WERE PRAYING FOR MY WILL TO BE DONE. IF THAT IS TO HAPPEN, IT WILL HAVE TO START WITH THE ONES WHO ARE PRAYING FOR IT. LIKE YOU - FOR EXAMPLE.
Oh, all right. I guess I do have some hang-ups. Now that you mention it, could probably name some others.
SO COULD I.
I haven't thought about it very much until now, but I really would like to cut out some of those things. I would like to, you know, be really free.
GOOD. NOW WE'RE GETTING SOMEWHERE. WE'LL WORK TOGETHER - YOU AND ME. I'M PROUD OF YOU.
Look, Lord, if you don't mind, I need to finish up here. This is taking a lot longer than it usually does.
"Give us this day, our daily bread. "
YOU NEED TO CUT OUT THE BREAD. YOU'RE OVERWEIGHT AS IT IS.
Hey, wait a minute! What is this? Here I was doing my 'religious duty', and all of a sudden you break in and remind me of all my hang-ups.
PRAYING IS A DANGEROUS THING. YOU JUST MIGHT GET WHAT YOU ASK FOR. REMEMBER, YOU CALLED ME - AND HERE I AM. IT'S TOO LATE TO STOP NOW. KEEP PRAYING.
WELL, GO ON.
I 'm scared to.
SCARED? OF WHAT?
I know what You'll say.
"Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us"
WHAT ABOUT SHIRLEY?
See! I knew it! I knew You would bring her up! Why, Lord, she's told lies about me, spread stories. She never paid back the money she owes me. I've sworn to get even with her!
BUT - YOUR PRAYER-WHAT ABOUT YOUR PRAYER?
I didn't - mean it.
WELL, AT LEAST YOU'RE HONEST. BUT, IT'S QUITE A LOAD CARRYING AROUND ALL THAT BITTERNESS AND RESENTMENT.
Yes, but I'll feel better as soon as I get even with her. Boy, have I got some plans for her. She'll wish she had never been born.
NO, YOU WON'T FEEL ANY BETTER. YOU'LL FEEL WORSE. REVENGE ISN'T SWEET. YOU KNOW HOW UNHAPPY YOU ARE- WELL, I CAN CHANGE THAT.
You can? How?
FORGIVE SHIRLEY. THEN, I'LL FORGIVE YOU; AND THE HATE AND SIN WILL BE SHIRLEY'S PROBLEM - NOT YOURS. YOU WILL HAVE SETTLED THE PROBLEM AS FAR AS YOU ARE CONCERNED.
Oh, You know, You're right. You always are. And I want to be right with You..., (sigh). All right !
THERE NOW!! WONDERFUL !! HOW DO YOU FEEL?
Hmmmm. Well, not bad. Not bad at all! In fact, I feel pretty great! You know, I don't think I'll go to bed uptight tonight. I haven't been getting much rest, You know.
YEAH, I KNOW. BUT, YOU'RE NOT THROUGH WITH YOUR PRAYER ARE YOU? GO ON.
Oh, all right.
"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
GOOD! GOOD! ! I'LL DO THAT. JUST DON'T PUT YOURSELF IN A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN BE TEMPTED.
What do you mean by that?
YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.
Yeah.... I know.
OKAY. GO AHEAD. FINISH!
"For Thine is the kingdom, and the power,
and the glory forever. Amen. "
DO YOU KNOW WHAT WOULD BRING ME GLORY - WHAT WOULD REALLY MAKE ME HAPPY?
No, but I'd like to know. I want to please you now. I 've really made a mess of things. I want to truly follow you. I can see now how great that would be. So, tell me ... How do I make you happy?
YOU JUST DID
How do we pray?
Just think of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of people who say the Lord's Prayer with just this blank mind set. Some pray pre-worded prayers from prayer books or hymnals. Or some even pray their own oft repeated words with the same attitude: "I was, you know, just saying my prayers for the day. I always say the Lord's Prayer. It makes me feel good, kind of like fulfilling a duty."
I am reminded of the Native Americans who plant 'prayer sticks'-- llittle sticks with feathers to flutter on the top. Every time the feather flutters it carries a message to the gods. Or of the Tibetans who have prayer wheels with the prayers printed on them. Everytime someone spins the prayer wheel (or some of them work with the wind) the prayer is delivered to the gods. So many times 'praying' is just a matter of getting the words recited, one way or another, and the individual walks away feeling that he's done his duty and he is 'good' for the day.
Jesus addressed this very thing when he told his disciples: "when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking." Matt. 7: 6 I guess even then people prayed with out putting any deep feeling into it.
Depending on circumstances, I sometimes say an audible grace and sometimes don't. It has nothing to do with not being thankful, but sometimes my hands and head and plate and desk are too full to stop and rattle off an audible prayer--anyway, I've had people give me a sanctimonious hairy eyeball for not "praying before The Meal." In fact I've gotten more of this than when I've prayed grace in public with people around. They react better to my saying grace than the 'christian' reacts to NOT saying it.
However, When I've listened to these same good christians saying 'grace" it rattles out quickly ( I mean, You don't want them to have to wait on you! You don't want to hold up conversation! You don't want to miss out on part of the conversation!) and it's over with. Even when they don't use a poetic kind of grace or a memorized form, you can tell by the way they say it that it is just a rote form. Or it is the sonorous dignified kind of prayer that you can clearly recognize as being done for show, not to connect with God.
Again Jesus warned the disciples: "thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men." When we pray our goal is to communicate with God not to put on a show..
If we are too involved in our meeting at that moment to actually communicate, it is better to send up a thanks from our heart without ever closing our eyes than to rattle off a useless recitation for show.
In these circumstances we are occupied but we feel that we really should let these people know we are "good Christians" so we bow our head for a fake prayer. We lie to make people think we are talking to God. But we aren't, we are just "standing on the corner of the street to be seen of men" And Christ said that the ones praying in this manner "have their reward" but it is only the acknowledgement of those looking on. It is not rewarded of God.
We must make sure that our communications with God are always from the heart, that we are always connecting with Him. A silent 'thank you Lord" lifted from a sincere heart is more meaningful to Him that a long audible prayer in the midst of a crowd. A simple heartfelt "Lord, help me" is more sure to reach the throne than a carefully worded, covers-all-the-bases-does-everybody-notice- my-sincerity kind of prayer.