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Should You Recite the Lords Prayer?

Around the world, millions say the Lord's Prayer, given in Matthew 6 by Jesus, daily or weekly. But is this really what Jesus intended? And do we benefit from saying the same prayer again and again?

In his introduction to the Lord's Prayer, also known as the Our Father, Jesus says, "This is how you should pray." In his prayer, which is recorded in Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus asks that God's name be glorified, that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, that we be provided for, that we be forgiven as we forgive others, and that we be delivered from temptation and from the evil one (Satan the Devil). This prayer is an excellent model for us to follow in making our own prayers to God.

Yes, Jesus says this is how we should pray, but he does not say that this is what we should pray. In fact, Jesus tells us at Matthew 6:7 that we should not say the same prayers over and over again, cautioning us against praying "vain repetitions" (KJV) because those will not be heard. Other translations render this as "babbling on" (NIV) and "say[ing] the same things over and over again" (NWT). This tells us that reciting the same memorized words does not reach God.

What, then, should we pray? Jesus tells us that it's appropriate to pray for God's kingdom and for others and for ourselves. We should be honest and heartfelt in our prayers, not repetitive. As Hebrews 11:6 points out, God will reward those who seek him earnestly. We can pray at any time in any place and even pray silently, which Jesus encouraged in Matthew 6:5-6 by drawing a comparison between the hypocritical Pharisees who prayed publicly for attention and the genuine lovers of God who pray quietly and privately.

God calls himself "the hearer of prayer" (Psalms 65:2) and invites us to "pray incessantly" (1 Thessalonians 5:17), so we know he wants us to develop a strong relationship with him through prayer. That's why it's so important for us to pray in our own words and with honest devotion, rather than simply repeating prayers by rote.

The Lord's Prayer is an outstanding example of a good prayer, one that shows us what we may pray about and tells us where to direct our prayers - to God, "our father" - but we should not repeat it over and over.

And for additional discussion of religious traditions and practices and what the Bible says about them, visit Traditions of Men at http://traditionsofmen.wordpress.com

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