How to Pray the Lord's Prayer Contemplatively

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How to Pray the Lord's Prayer Contemplatively

Brandon Booth
Brandon Booth
January 24, 2023

Last Saturday we hosted our first One Day retreat in Cañon City, Colorado. It was a wonderful time of slowing down and attending to God. What follows is the transcript from a little snippet from my talk on the Lord’s Prayer (slightly edited for readability). 

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Here is the invitation of the Lord's Prayer, take a long loving look at God. Let's hear what God actually is like, what he actually says, what his true character is like, and let's take a long,  receptive look at God.

Here's the simple method: pray the whole prayer word for word. Then repeat one part as much as you like. That’s it. Pray the whole prayer—pray it through—and then repeat one part as much as you like. Here’s a little more definition to that: find a quiet place. Go into your “inner room, your secret place,” close your eyes. Breathe deeply. And as you begin to pray the Lord's Prayer inhale deeply and say one line at a time. Between each line just breathe. 

“Our father who art in heaven.” Breathe. Let it rest. Let it be there. Think about it. What do these words mean? How do they strike you today in this context? What's being taught to you in those words today? What action is being asked of you?

Take another deep breath and on the next exhale, say the next line. “Our father who art in Heaven, [pause] hallowed be thy name. [pause] Thy kingdom come, [pause] thy will be done.” Pause with each one. 

Martin Luther says that his habit of praying this kind of thing was he would go to the church and he would sit and he would go through basics. The Apostles Creed, the 10 Commandments, and then he would get to the Lord's Prayer. And then he says: 

“It may happen occasionally that when I wander among so many ideas in one petition that I forgo the other six. If such an abundance of good thoughts comes to us, we should disregard the other petitions. Make room for such thoughts. Listen in silence, and under no circumstance obstruct them. The Holy Spirit himself preaches here and one word of his sermon is far better than a thousand of our prayers. Many times I have learned more from one prayer than I might have learned from much reading and speculation.”

And this is my experience too. I first started to pray the Lord's Prayer in a very slow and contemplative way in dealing with my own anxiety. I have a very distinct memory of being in a very intense setting and finding a quiet room all by myself. I was panicking, and I was short of breath and ready to curl up in a fetal position. And I found a quiet room, sat on an old bed, and all I knew to do was to just say the Lord's Prayer. I had no other words.
 It's all I knew to say. So I started going through the Lord's Prayer one line at a time, just breathing my way through it, and I got stuck. It was like the Holy Spirit grabbed me and said, you are going to pray. “Thy will be done now. That's it.” I think I prayed that line a thousand times that day. Not like a mantra, but as an act of faith. “Your will, yours.”  

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