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Linkage: The Lord’s Prayer as a Paradigm of Christian Prayer

Prayer is one of the great mysteries of the Christian life.  I know that we have all been frustrated by prayer and we have all experienced God's hand at work through prayer.  There have been times when we have felt the psalmists when they question God about His apparent lack help as well as when they praise Him for His faithfulness and strength.

Prayer is one way we are able to participate in the full life Christ Jesus has promised us.  Prayer is one of the ways we can help usher in the Kingdom of God into the world.  It also softens our hearts, aligns our wills with God's will, and reminds us that God is our great provider.  Prayer is an essential discipline for the Christian.  Though this essay from N. T. Wright is on the long side I think you will be blessed by it as you discover the importance of the Lord's Prayer in our lives.

“AS OUR SAVIOR CHRIST hath commanded and taught us, we are bold to say: ‘Our Father. . . .’”  So runs the old liturgical formula, stressing the Pater Noster as a command and its use as a daring, trembling, holy boldness.  At one level, this is entirely appropriate.  At another level, however, it fails to catch the most remarkable thing about the Lord’s Prayer — and so fails to grasp the truly distinctive feature in Christian prayer that this prayer points us to.  For the Lord’s Prayer is not so much a command as an invitation: an invitation to share in the prayer-life of Jesus himself.
   
Seen with Christian hindsight — more specifically, with trinitarian perspective — the Lord’s Prayer becomes an invitation to share in the divine life itself.  It becomes one of the high roads into the central mystery of Christian salvation and Christian existence: that the baptized and believing Christian is (1) incorporated into the inner life of the triune God and (2) intended not just to believe that this is the case, but actually to experience it. 
The Lord’s Prayer, along with the Eucharist, forms the liturgical equivalent to what Eastern Orthodox church architecture portrays and western Gothic architecture depicts — both developing, each in its own way, the central temple theology of Judaism.  The God worshiped here, says this architecture, is neither a remote dictator nor simply the sum total of human god-awareness.  This God is both intimately present within the world and utterly beyond, other, and different from it.  He is present to celebrate with his people and to grieve with them, to give them his rich blessings and to rescue them from all ills, because he is also sovereign over heaven and earth, sea and dry land, all the powers of this world, and even over the urgings of the human heart.  The Lord’s Prayer is an invitation to know this God and to share his innermost life.


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