Prayer is the act of petitioning, praising, giving thanks, or confessing to God. It is expressed by several different words in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Prayer can be divided into corporate, audible or silent. Corporate prayer is prayer that takes place in a group with more than two or three people praying out loud or silent. Audible prayer is prayed out loud and can be done alone or corporately. Silent prayer is the act of praying quietly either in a group or alone. Prayer is conditioned by the biblical understanding of God as a personal being who hears the prayers of his people.
Jesus was very explicit with his instructions about how his people should pray. The Lordâ€™s Prayer is a prayer given by Jesus to his followers as the example for the way he wants his people to pray. It is found in different versions in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4. This passage of scripture is called the Lordâ€™s Prayer because it is from the Lord and is for the purpose of teaching his followers how to pray.
As an example of how his disciples should pray, Jesus recites the Lordâ€™s Prayer, which is devoid of any â€œempty phrasesâ€ that characterize the prayers of the Gentiles. It is not wrong to come to God many times with the same requests â€" Jesus encourages persistent prayer, but he condemns the shallow repetition of words that are not offered with a sincere heart. Here, the Lordâ€™s Prayer is a model that the disciples are to approximate in formulating their own prayers.
â€œThis, then, is how you should pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come, your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven,
Give us today our daily bread,
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.â€
In its original form, the Lordâ€™s Prayer probably comes from the earthly Jesus himself. One indication o this is that the version in Luke essentially reappears in Matthew. Another is the Jewish and Aramaic character of the prayer. Here, two points are important: first, in form and content, the Lordâ€™s Prayer parallels in important respects to the Kaddish and the Eighteen Benedictions â€" Jewish prayers apparently in use, in their oldest forms, in the synagogue worship of Jesusâ€™ time; second, behind the Greek word or â€œFatherâ€ is the Aramaic abba, and behind the Greek for â€œdebtsâ€ and â€œsinsâ€ is choba. Jesus himself apparently addressed God as abba, thus establishing accustom that was continued even by Greek-speaking Christians.
Many Christians believed that is was necessary to pray elaborate beautiful prayers where everyone could hear them and admire what they had said. Even today, the Christian has the tendency to get caught up in what their prayers sound like to others and the desire to impress other people. The Lordâ€™s Prayer is Godâ€™s message to his followers that he prefers the humble and quiet prayers that are sincere and private. In fact, he tells his believers to go into a closet to pray so they can make sure that they do not get caught up in trying to impress other believers or even God. It is the ultimate act of humility to pray privately and to open yourself up before the Lord and let him see your true inner self. In addition, when it is necessary to pray out loud in front of other people you should pray in much the same way that you pray alone. It is a witness to other believers to hear fellow Christians pray in the way Jesus teaches and quite possible could begin to wipe out the school of thought that public prayers need to be elaborate and beautiful. Jesus regards all words spoken in his favor as beautiful.
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