“This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven”” (Matthew 6:9)
I’m old enough that when I played high school sports our team would actually pray together before games. All of us, agnostics, atheists, Jews and Gentiles and who-knows-what-else in a huddle reciting the words together in a huddle. Psalm 23 was popular. It usually started slow and low, got loud and fast by the “shadow of death” part and then worked into a disjointed war cry by the end. We also did the “Lord’s Prayer” or model prayer. This felt more like a magic incantation mumbled by pimply priests ready to enter the basketball, football, or baseball sanctuary. We knew the words. Someone said “our father” and everyone jumped in, marching in rhythm to the never ending end: “forever and ever amen.”
I don’t know when I learned the words, but I know it was long before I knew them. I still don’t know them. I still fall into one word and swim until I admit I can’t find the bottom of it. So I guess my title is more than a little presumptuous. I don’t really know how to pray the Lord’s prayer, I just know more than I used to know, and I know that what I know is wonderful. And I’m not a guy who uses “wonderful” to describe much. It is wonderful. It is wonderful. It is wonderful. It is so wonderful that I’m going to have to write just a little at a time. Do this with me; pray the Lord’s prayer every day out loud and let it be whatever it is to you. Out loud is important. Form the words with your mouth not just your heart or mind. Lesson one is that Christianity is not spiritual or supernatural. Christianity is Jesus; a real man with a real body and a real mouth making real words. The earth is his and everything in it. All things belong to him. Christians or those who want to know the real God do not need to retreat from the physical in order to find him. Everything is spiritual and supernatural. Either God made your mouth or he didn’t. If he did, it is a miracle and every word miraculous. Speech itself. Rhythm. Resonance. Feel it. Try to explain it without God if you’d like, but as for me, I’m going to let the sound itself declare the glory of God.