The one who prays never prays alone.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

When Jesus taught us to pray, he did not teach us to pray “My Father” but “Our Father.” Why? The reason is as powerful as it is simple: Because when we pray, we never pray alone. It is almost a certainty that whenever we pray the Lord’s Prayer there is someone in the world praying it with us, even if we happen to be praying it alone. And there is great comfort in this knowledge. Whenever we pray, there are others praying with us, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name …” We are part of a community of Christians around world, praying for us and with us, even as we pray for them and with them. 

But there is another important reason why Jesus taught us to pray “Our Father” – it also reminds us that when we pray to our Father in Heaven, Jesus himself is always praying right along with us. We don’t pray alone, in other words, not just because we are always praying with our fellow Christians, but also because we are always praying with Jesus. He teaches us to pray to his Father, and he offers to pray with us, right alongside us. Every time we pray “Our Father” we can imagine Jesus right there praying with us. And that is not only comforting to think about, but amazing to imagine.

How does this happen? Well, Paul teaches us in Galatians that the Spirit of God’s Son has been sent into our hearts:

God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!

Galatians 4:4-6

So, whenever we pray “Our Father,” we are praying as God’s children, made so through our baptisms into Jesus. Jesus’s Father is now our Father because of our baptisms into Christ. We are now and forevermore blessed to participate in the circle of love and of life that is the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Because of Jesus, we now pray to the Father through the Spirit of God’s Son. Or, to put it slightly differently, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we can now pray to Jesus’s Father with Jesus himself at our side.

Amazing, isn’t it? A thought that is as powerful as it is simple: When we pray, we never pray alone. Every prayer that we pray is raised with our fellow Christians praying with us, with Jesus himself praying alongside us, and with the Holy Spirit interceding for us, helping us to pray with sighs too deep for words. (Romans 8:26)

So let us pray, today and always, with the blessed knowledge that whenever we pray, we never pray alone. And let us return, again and again, to the most perfect prayer of them all, the prayer that Jesus himself taught us.

[Jesus taught them, saying:]
“Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
    Your will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
        as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
        but rescue us from the evil one.”

Matthew 6:9-13

11 thoughts on “Why We Pray “Our Father”

  1. It is indeed a blessing and a comfort. This post puts me in mind of the eondrrful “wherever there are 2 or 3 in my name there I shall be also”. I have often been very aware that as I prayer walk there must be countless others around the world praying for similar intentions at that very moment. I have also been struck by the “our” of the Lord’s prayer too as you write here. What a marvellous God we worship and serve.
    Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes this is so very true and wonderful sense of belonging to a body of prayer that is sustained by an Almighty Loving Father far greater than and beyond our temporary troubles here. And that all will be well.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I appreciated t his post and found it comforting, so thank you. Great insights. I do not know if this is true for the Lutheran Book of Worship, but in the UM Communion Service, the prayer of confession is also written in the plural, not I have sinned, but we have sinned. I never noticed that until it was pointed out to me by a member of the congregation. We did a 4 week study on Communion and ended it by writing our own Great Thanksgiving. blessings for the night, Michele

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes! “Most merciful God, we confess that we are captive to sin …” or “Gracious God, have mercy on us. We confess …”

      This is one of the reasons why I turn and face the altar with the congregation when I am leading the confession, to join with the community in confessing our sins.

      Very powerful to think about the deeper meaning of that. Thank you for pointing it out, and blessings to you, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. IThank you for sharing that. It has been a long time since I have looked at ecumenical Liturgy books. One of the fun things in seminary is I did not go to a denominational seminary, I went to Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York. It has historic American Baptist Routes and a strong black church connection, but I had classes in worship and liturgy with folks from at least 5 different denominations or groups and it was great fun to compare notes. I was raised Roman Catholic, remarried in the Episcopal Church in 1986 and wandered into a UM church in 1993, where I found a sense of spiritual home. But I fell in love with the Great Thanksgiving when it was in Latin and have never lost my appreciation for that wonderful prayer. Thank you for sharing those wonderful words from your liturgy. Blessings, Michel

        Liked by 1 person

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