“This, then, is how you should pray,” he tells us:
Oh Father of us all, up there in heaven, your name is holy. Let the end come, so that we can be with you in that heavenly place and, like everyone else does up there, do what it is you want us to do. In the meantime, please make sure we have what we need from day to day and forgive us when we mess up, just as we forgive—or at least try to forgive—those who mess up in our lives. Protect us from being tempted to do the wrong thing, as we are so prone to do. (my paraphrase of Matthew 6:9-13).It is, surely, the most commonly prayed prayer. One hears of people automatically reciting it in response to some emergency or disaster. Believers often pray it corporately—usually standing in church, I might point out—but it also makes a good closet prayer. It covers everything there could be to say to our Father in heaven: praise for his holiness and that he deigns to be our Father in the first place, eagerness to join him in heaven, and acceptance of his will, and it closes—despite Jesus’ prohibition against asking for things God already knows what we need—with three comprehensive requests: for daily provision, for forgiveness, and for protection against our own messed-up-ness.
Nevertheless, when overcome—as I often am—by prayer-inertia, I often forget that I can pray this prayer. That Jesus takes care of even that for us, the praying, just as he did on