I REMEMBER so clearly my mother's persistence in teaching me the power of the Lord's Prayer.1 ``Now, sit up when you pray,'' she'd tell me, ``and say it clearly and slowly.'' She felt that this prayer had spiritual backbone and that each word had deep, spiritual significance and should never be said lightly or hurriedly. Since then, I've come to think of this prayer as the ``world's prayer.'' That is, I can apply its powerful message to any of the world problems that I'm praying about. I've turned to the Lord's Prayer more times than I can count, but it's never ritualistic or old hat. Each time I pray I find truths about God and man that apply in new and sometimes startling ways to the world.
I learned this prayer by saying it aloud, but now I sometimes think about it silently too. It doesn't matter who -- if anyone -- hears us praying. What does matter is prayer's effect of turning our thinking to God, who creates and governs man.
Right in the first line of the Lord's Prayer, for example, where Christ Jesus says, ``Our Father which art in heaven,'' we're told that God is our universal Father -- your Father and my Father. His creation is spiritual, without regard to race, religion, gender, geography, politics, or economics. Spiritual diversity is, however, natural to God's creation and is nurtured by God's Mother-love. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, gives this spiritual interpretation of the first line of the Lord's Prayer: ``Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious....''2
Doesn't the world need that sense of God's motherhood! Motherhood naturally includes caring, protection, compassion, comforting. Though people may fail one another in this regard, the motherhood of God embraces each one in the family of man, regardless of the human circumstances.
I've often thought that the next line, ``Hallowed be thy name,'' is perhaps telling us something of God's way of governing His creation. Sometimes it is felt that fighting evil with evil and force with force is the only thing to do. But when we see that our loving Father-Mother God is as all-powerful as He is good, we know that He doesn't need something so foreign to His own nature as evil to work out His good purpose. God's name and His way are ``hallowed'' -- holy and free from evil. Although we should never be naive about what's going on that isn't right, through the love of God so evident in the Lord's Prayer we can always find ways as individuals and as a world to work things out in a manner that hallows, or honors, God's name.
The Lord's Prayer helps us to see more clearly the nature of our loving, all-powerful God. Because His work of creating man is complete, our prayer is really a recognition (for us) of what God has already done. Mrs. Eddy says in Science and Health, ``One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, `Love thy neighbor as thyself;' annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, -- whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed.''3
Through the bad news and the good, the world needs our prayer and needs our persistence in prayer. The Lord's Prayer can be our own and the world's best friend.
1See Matthew 6:9-13. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 16. 3Ibid., p. 340.