Originally posted by agryson
Prayer means nothing to me any more.
Why is a different question; I had a catholic upbringing (not a strict one) and found that the prayers we said in mass were simply a repetitive sequence of words which had meaning but with continuous repetition lost whatever meaning they had.
That's why I see that type of prayer more like a mantra in meditation. It gi ...[text shortened]... ing for reflection at some level. Though for me it was generally the colour of the floor tiles.
I think Christ would agree with you.
Matthew 6:7 "And Jesus said, But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do; for they think that they will be heard for their much speaking. Be you not therefore like them; for your heavenly Father knows what things you have need of, before you ask him."
Then he taught them how to pray by saying the famous "Lords Prayer". However, this also could become a vain repitition of words as well, no? I think a better way of studying the Lords prayer is studying guidlines that Christ gave us in prayer, rather than simply saying the words mindlessly. For example, we can disect the Lords Prayer as a lesson rather than an actual prayer to be repeated mindlessly.
"Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed by thy name"
Here we see that we are to pray to God as though he were our Father. It is a rather intimate interaction compared to that of saying repeating words to a diety that is impersonal and distant. I don't think you would walk up to your own earthly faither and begin mumbling a repitition over and over just because you felt you ought to do so. Also we see an air of praise in the opening of the prayer. He is saying "hallowed by thy name". However, praise can also become repititious. In fact, the Bible says that we should worship God in spirit and in truth only. For me, it would be akin to walking up to my own earthly father who I respect and lovingly wrap my arms around him.
"Thy kingdom come, thy will be done"
Here we see that our focus should be to please our God, thus our will should line up with his will. If not, I do not anicipate God answering a prayer that is against his will for us or in general. He does not violate our free will and it is for sure we will not violate his. In fact, in James it is said that many pray to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. If so, do not expect God to answer them because it is not in your best interest to fulfill those lusts.
"Give us our daily bread"
Of coarse I do not think that Christ was telling us to pray for actual bread here rather, this is in reference to Matthew 4:4 when Christ states that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God". Here we see that what is being talked about here is spiritual bread to feed us spiritually. We should meditate on it because in it is revealed God's will for our lives. Therefore, it is a good resource to use in our prayer life.
"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."
Here we see the importatnce for coming clean with God, if you will. Sin is what seperates us from him, therefore, it is what must be dealt with so that we can commune with him. Biblically it is said that a mans righteousness is proportional to prayers getting answered. I believe the quote is, "The prayer of the righteous avails much". Also, it is equally important to forgive those who sin against us. After all, if we have the gonades to ask him to forgive us, who are we not to forgive others?
"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil"
Here we see the importance in praying to avoid temptation. I think all to often we wonder why God would allow us to enter situations where we falter when tempted when all along it could have been avoided had we only prayed beforehand. The same thing can be said about evil harming us. Had we only prayed beforehand, perhaps it could have been averted entirely.
"For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever, Amen."
Here we see a reitoration of praise like at the beginning of the prayer. It seems there is a spirit of praise upon entering and leaving the presence of God. After all, if we love our God and are truly reverant and thankful then such praise will flow naturally.