The Lord’s Prayer is without doubt the most famous of prayers. It is one of the most cherished prayers among the saints and even the unregenerate have some respect for it. It is recited by excited little kids in Sunday School, as well as by countless priests following traditional liturgies. It both warms and warns the soul. It produces praise and petition. It dwells on the heavenly glories and the earthly troubles. It was first taught by the Master, and repeated through the ages among His disciples.
But little is known about the setting in which our Lord first taught the words of this prayer. If all those who know the “best prayer of all”, the Lord’s prayer, would pay attention to the bookends on either side of the prayer, we would find ourselves better at prayer too. The best prayers are not the corporate recitals of the “best prayer”; the best prayers are the prayers like it that fill the private lives of all the redeemed.
In Matthew 6:9-13 the words of the Lord’s Prayer are given. But in both the introduction and again in the conclusion we find this:
your Father who sees in secret will reward youMatthew 6:6, 18
It is for this reason that Charles Spurgeon said:
Public prayer is no evidence of piety. It is practised by an abundance of hypocrites. But private prayer is a thing for which the hypocrite has no heart.
Likewise, E. M. Bounds exhorted his readers that,
Prayer is not learned in a classroom but in the closet.
If you would want to pray the best prayers ever, learn from the Lord’s Prayer, but be sure to perfect your prayers in secret where “your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”