I woke up early in a strange bed, in a strange city, to a strange sound reverberating around me. I was in Dar es Salaam, a city of four-and-a-half million people in the eastern African country of Tanzania. It was 5:00 A.M. and the Muslim call-to-prayer was bellowing from the loudspeaker down the street. To my American ears, it was an eerie sound. To the two billion Muslims worldwide, it commands their submissive bow to their god, Allah.
Muslims pray five times each day. Their religion requires ritual, routine, and repetitious prayers! Christians are taught to pray always. “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18, CSB).
The disciples watched and listened as Jesus prayed. It must have seemed that he spent an inordinate amount of time talking to His Father. “He was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray’ ” (Luke 11:1, CSB).
In response to their inquiry, Jesus offered what is usually called The Lord’s Prayer. In fact, it should be called “The Model Prayer” because Jesus, the Lord, didn’t pray these words, but rather gave them to His disciples as an example. You can find the Model Prayer recorded in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4.
You probably have the traditional form of the prayer memorized.
Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever. Amen.
Jesus taught us to proclaim three things in prayer. When we pray, we proclaim the God’s name is hallowed or holy. We proclaim that His kingdom is coming, just as He promised. And we proclaim that God’s will, His purposes and plan, shall be accomplished.
And Jesus taught us to make three requests in prayer: Give us, forgive us, and lead us.
In my neighborhood there isn’t a loudspeaker to awaken me, beckoning me to pray my morning prayers. But God invites His children to enter His holy presence. Let’s learn to pray... let’s practice praying. “Our Father in heaven...”