The hinge of the prayer is ‘as in heaven so on earth’ or, if you prefer the usual translation ‘on earth as it is in heaven’. That centrally key phrase insists on mutuality and reciprocity, on an interaction between the heavenly ‘Your’ of God’s name, kingdom, and will and the earthly ‘Our’ of bread, debt, and temptation. — John Dominic Crossan, The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of the Lord’s Prayer
The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creations. Not to make people with better morals, but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love. This, my friends, is what it really means to be a Christian. — Brendan Manning, The Furious Longing of God
Luke tells us,
[Jesus] was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray…’
What is prayer? I remember being told ‘Prayer is talking to God’. Yes it is, but it’s so much more. It’s listening, too. It’s an openness to life. It’s an awareness of injustice. It’s a longing for God’s will to be done on earth as in heaven.
In the film Shadowlands, the fictional CS Lewis says:
I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.
I’m convinced we pray more often than we realise. Let me tell you a story.
I used to have an atheist friend. We’d have coffee together regularly. My intention was to show him friendship; his stated intention was to hone up his skills for arguing his atheist case. But we had a mutual respect. He had to go into hospital for surgery, and before he did he asked me for this favour: he asked me not to pray for him.
I was a bit taken aback, but I agreed. I agreed because I wanted to respect my friend’s wishes, and I believed God would care for him without my prayers.
I learned something about prayer in those days, a bit like ‘CS Lewis’ (actually Anthony Hopkins) saying ‘I pray because I can’t help myself’.