The Way to Pray
Where I work we train civilian pastors turned Army officers (which makes them chaplains) how to pastor soldiers wherever they are in the Army. Chapel, desert, jungle, it doesn’t matter. They already are qualified pastors. We don’t teach them how to pray. They had to be certified by their denomination how to pray in their denominational style before they could become chaplains in the Army. We just teach them the way to pray in their denominational style in Army ways (in chapels, deserts, etc.). We train techniques not texts.
JESUS is teaching those who want to follow Him the techniques of how to pray to GOD as their Father. He is telling them not to repeat things by rote, over and over, to put themselves in a meditative state like others do. He says “pray in this way.” Obviously He does not mean with these exact words, because He is telling them not to pray by repeating the same words. That’s the point. This is conversation with the One Who loves us most, not a magical incantation. This is JESUS speaking, not Harry Potter.
We’ve mentioned in previous talks (and shame on you if you haven’t read them!) that we have the New Testament in Greek because it is a very precise language and that is true here. Although JESUS spoke in Aramaic and Hebrew the people He spoke to had the context of the time and place, His gestures and inflections, to know exactly what He meant. We have the New Testament in Greek to show that context in writing.
So we know that whatever JESUS said in Aramaic or Hebrew translated “in this way” or “like this” or “so” in English specifically does not mean “in these exact words.” That is what He just said NOT to do.
The Greek word for the phrase “in this way” or “like this” is “houtos.”If we wrote the phrase “My son is growing like a weed” the word for “like” we would use would be “houtos.” Is your son made of vegetable matter? No. Does he have his roots planted in dirt, live in the woods and have nothing but rainwater to drink? Hopefully not. But they have the fact that they grow very quickly in common.
We know this, again, by context. As in most things in life, context is everything. The settings and ways JESUS uses this same word in other messages similar to this one shows He means “in this style.” It is the same word used by JESUS when He tells us to let our light shine like a lamp on a lamp stand. Does He mean to sit on a lampstand, pour olive oil on your head and set your hair on fire on top of a hill? If so, we are all in serious trouble. No, He means “in this way” as in “with this intent”, with this mindset.
The prayer JESUS uses as the example, the “our Father”, or “LORD’s prayer”, teaches us prayer is conversation with our Father. There is a technique to speaking to Him (prayer). Just as there is a way you speak to your boss that is different than speaking to your buddies and a technique for talking to your wife that is different than talking to your children, and a technique that is (hopefully) different speaking to your children than to the dog.
That technique to speak to GOD is with familiarity paid for by JESUS. You stand in the Blood of GOD the Son. With reverence. GOD is in Heaven and Holy. And with openness, pouring out everything in our hearts.
GOD doesn’t need more parrots. He doesn’t need repetitions of prayers. Sing it if you want as a reminder. But when it comes to talking, say what you want to say openly, in your own way, lovingly, respectfully, and in awe and adoration at the same time when you pray.
“Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”
Matthew 6:9 ESV
#prayer #Father #Respect