The most powerful prayer of all
"All Christian churches have one bond of unity, one nucleus or point of convergence, one prayer, — the Lord's Prayer." Mary Baker Eddy (Pulpit and Press, p. 22 )
Have You Ever realized there isn't a single "I," "me," or "mine" in the Lord's Prayer? It's all "our" and "us." This is a universal prayer. In the Bible it is only five verses long, but it covers all human needs. It speaks to the child and the most eminent theologian. The author of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures has written what she understands to be the spiritual sense of the Lord's Prayer. (The entire prayer and its spiritual interpretation by Mary Baker Eddy appear on the facing page.)
When I consider the Lord's Prayer, I realize that there are surely many ways to think of the infinite meanings to be found in its inspired words. These are some of the ideas that I've found helpful. The first four lines of the prayer speak of God and His allness: His divine parenting and His all-harmonious nature. They establish His presence and acknowledge His will being done everywhere. The prayer goes on to show how these truths meet our needs, with "give us," "forgive us," "lead us," "deliver us." Then it turns right back to God, affirming the reign of His kingdom, power, and glory, forever. What a complete circle of prayer. And it covers everything!
"Our Father which art in heaven" fixes the nature of God and man: God is Spirit, and makes His child spiritual. "Our Father" is not a sickness-sending Parent, because a loving Father gives only good to His child. Man's divine heredity is established here, all fear is eliminated, and the brotherhood of man is revealed.
Have you ever thought of God as Mother? This concept brings such comfort. "Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious." So no one is without a loving, ever-present, caring Parent.
Then the prayer moves on to "Hallowed be Thy name." What actually is God's name? When Moses was struggling with a feeling of inferiority, God revealed His name to him as "I AM THAT I AM" (see Ex. 3:11-14 ). By seeing who the real "I AM" actually is, Moses was transformed and surely saw himself in a more spiritual light. As a result, he became one of the world's great leaders.
And what about God's presence? Consider the statement, "Thy kingdom come." What a wonderful concept! Regardless of what the material senses may say, our spiritual sense reveals that God is here, right now. Jesus said the kingdom of God is within us (see Luke 17:21), although sometimes we may be unaware of this fact. Spiritual sense looks beyond the evidence of the physical senses and recognizes God's kingdom—peace, spiritual power, harmony.
Have you ever seen a "magic eye book"? Its pages of chaotic patterns appear to depict nothing. But if we train ourselves to see beyond the surface of the page, a beautiful three-dimensional image appears! Similarly, the kingdom of heaven is always present, even though we may not see it at first glance! The surface of our lives may look chaotic or incurable, but patience, persistence, and prayer reveal God and His creation right here. This brings healing.
Now, the prayer affirms God's all-power: "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." Many physicists today are saying the universe is not material, but mental—a phenomenon of thought. "The world begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine," Sir James Jeans, the well-known astronomer said. Looking beyond materialism, being spiritually discerning, we will recognize that "as in heaven, so on earth." As God's universe operates in harmony, so must it be on earth. God is omnipotent and supreme.
These powerful truths about God meet our every need. And now we pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." How reassuring. We don't have to ask for or worry about to-morrow; each day our needs will be met. God's grace—His unconditional love—supplies all needs every moment and feeds parched and famished affections.
This leads to, "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." This demands total forgiveness of anyone who has hurt us, and it shows that our own forgiveness is in proportion to our forgiveness of others. Our own release comes when we have released our brother. Forgiving others sets us free to feel God's love.
How do we forgive? If we're inclined toward self-justification, we may find this difficult! But criticism and resentment have no place when we keep thought filled with love. Forgiveness is unconditional love; it loves regardless of human circumstances—past or present. This Love is God's love: "And Love is reflected in love."
Now we pray, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Temptation is diversion, distraction. Thoughts that would lead us away from God are aggressive mental suggestions. They come to everyone. But it's not the temptation that matters. It's what we do about it that counts!
Temptation suggests something is true when it isn't, or that it isn't true when it is. It distracts us, pulls us away from spiritual thinking. It would make us feel discouraged, confused, and alone—says we can't hear God's voice and are without hope. Sometimes it even makes us think that prayer does not work! One antidote for discouragement is gratitude. Try being grateful and discouraged at the same time. It can't be done. Daily we can be grateful for God's love, which is "new every morning." Then we'll know that "God leadeth us not into temptation, but delivereth us from sin, disease, and death."
And this prayer finishes with that ringing affirmation, "For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever." This kingdom of God is where we really live. In it there are no miserable sinners, just the blessed children of God; no conflicts of personalities, just God and His universal family held in Love's embrace.
There are no limits here, no personal opinions, no hierarchy, no night, darkness, or doubt. This consciousness is our actual, God-given dwelling, our home, our identity, forever. Because "God is infinite, all-power, all Life, Truth, Love, over all, and All."
There's so much to rejoice about in the power of the Lord's Prayer. What an opportunity we all have to see its universal truth blessing us, our families, and our world.