One of the special things about the Lord’s Prayer is its simplicity. This is prayer that you can do. And that’s good news for exhausted prayers. It’s likely that the people who heard Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount were exhausted with prayer. Their lives were filled with specific, set prayers that had to be done in proper order and length. While we can appreciate their religious dedication, we ought not forget the weight such expectations put on their shoulders. As one commentator says, this was a people “overburdened with prayer.” Perhaps you feel overburdened with prayer as well. Maybe it’s Paul’s encouragement to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and you don’t know what that means. Maybe it’s an example from church history — we hear that Luther spent hours in prayer; how can I possibly measure up to that? Maybe it’s the voice of a Christian leader from your past, emphasizing prayer to the point that you feel guilty for forgetting your prayers at times; throughout many seasons in church history, the people have faced overwhelming expectations for prayer. Maybe it’s a sense of paralysis — the needs are just too great; I don’t even know where to begin. Wherever you are in your prayer life, receive the Lord’s Prayer as a sublime gift of mercy. It’s simple and short, but rich in depth and meaning. Like the elven bread in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, “one small bite is enough to fill the stomach of a grown man.” If you’re overwhelmed in your prayer life, whether because of deep pain, or the burden of someone’s expectations, or the scope of need, the Lord’s Prayer is given for you. It’s prayer that you can do. For Reflection: — Is the simplicity of the Lord’s Prayer a breath of fresh air for you? Or, are you tempted to think that you’ve matured beyond the simplicity of the Lord’s Prayer? — Evaluate your prayer life. Do you pray with regularity, or only occasionally? Is your prayer life marked by satisfaction, guilt, neglect, or something else? — Over the next several weeks, we will explore using the Lord’s Prayer as a model for prayer. This week, start out by reciting it slowly, contemplating each phrase as you sit before your Father in prayer.
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