Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Lord's Prayer: Words

A thought occurred to me the other day that at first glance will seem kind of obvious. When Jesus taught people to pray He told them (us?) to use words. So, in Matthew's expression of Jesus' prayer lesson it's, 'Pray then like this', and a bunch of words follow. Luke's account is clearer. 'When you pray, say ...' Jesus tells us to pray using words.

Now, why did this thought strike me? Well, I'm hearing that there are some who are teaching that there is a kind of prayer that doesn't use words. This kind of prayer is a preparation for the other kinds of prayer that do use words. But this kind of prayer doesn't. This prayer is all about silence.

Now, I'm all for silence. When I take a walk there is no music playing in my ears. And most times that I drive, the radio is off. Silence is good for some focused pondering, for letting your mind wander wherever or for just enjoying the quiet. I really do think that so many around me would do so much better if there was more silence in their lives. So much better.

But silence isn't prayer. It might be a prelude to prayer, a helpful prelude. But it isn't prayer. It's silence. How do I know? Well, what did Jesus have to say about praying. One thing He taught is that we are to use words. And that makes sense when you remember that the God to whom we pray listens to words and speaks them. It's the words going back and forth that result in our enjoyment of God and His enjoyment of us.