Without doubt, the model prayer known as The Lord’s Prayer or Our Father is the best known of all prayers. Many of us memorized it as children, as part of our religious upbringing. While reciting it over the years, however, some of us understood its meaning while most of us were only repeating words. This is ironic, as Jesus instructs us in the immediate context to not do the very thing we were told was required—repetition of the prayer itself.
I remember the first time I read this prayer in its biblical context, shortly after my conversion. I thought to myself, “Clearly, this is not a prayer to merely be repeated, but a pattern for our prayers. In other words, Jesus is not encouraging religious ritual apart from a transformed heart. Jesus is so concerned about the heart of the person who prays that he precedes His teaching on prayer with a warning against pretending to be righteous.