Our Father in heaven; holy is your name; your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive our sins, as we forgive others; save us from the time of trial and deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory – now and always – amen!
Words so much a part of our repertoire that they trip off the tongue with hardly a thought. A prayer that encompasses everything we need – God in heaven; daily needs; forgiveness and delivery from evil – it’s all there. It really is the perfect prayer.
And yet. Familiarity breeds contempt – or at least can hinder our ability to hear God speak. So let’s take a journey together into this perfect prayer; let’s explore its nuances, its phrases, its very familiarity and let’s discover more, plummet the depths and listen again to the reply that comes when Jesus is asked, “Lord, teach us to pray.”
This short series on the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father, the Jesus Prayer will, over four weeks, delve into what it means, why it has stood the test of time and why the Christian Church loves this prayer so much.
The Narrative Lectionary divides the prayer into four sections:
Aug 14 Our Father in Heaven
Aug 21 Give us this Day
Aug 28 Forgive us our sins
Sept 4 Lead us not into temptation
Read it in Luke (11:2-4), read it in Matthew (6:9-13), compare the differences, and ask which version draws you in more – why?
Note where it comes in each gospel, too. In Luke’s record, it comes as an answer to a direct request from his followers. In Matthew, it is part of a long discourse, full of wide ranging teaching on many topics.
The Narrative Lectionary is using the Luke version, but it is always helpful to see how else a familiar topic or passage is treated by other authors. If you have reservations about reading only the same three verses of scripture for four weeks, what other passages might you include?
The book, Prayers of the Cosmos, Meditations on the Aramaic Words of Jesus, has an interesting section on the Lord’s Prayer, with textual notes, sections on each phrase, and suggestions for body prayer and other ways to pray this familiar prayer.
Perhaps this is a season to introduce your congregation to new ways of pray-ing. Labyrinths, contemplative prayer, prayer stations, etc. Theresa Cho has some Lord’s Prayer station ideas here.
Find as many versions of the prayer as you can – a quick Google search will give you a good starting list. If you’re a fan of Prince, he prays the Lord’s Prayer in his song, Controversy.
Try putting it into your own words – not rewriting it, but simply giving it your approach, your interpretation. (If you are a Spill the Beans user you will find a PDF template with eight different translations to compare). If your young adults and/or children are present through the summer months, try getting them to put it into their words – this can prove very interesting indeed! It is something I did many years ago when I was still in Youth Ministry and what they all came up with was a revelation. My favourite version remains this:
The man upstairs
You are the Master – Ace
I’ll see you when I get there
Have it your way down here as it is up there
Feed us when we are hungry
Cut us some slack – as we cut it to our brothers
Don’t tempt me mate; keep me on the straight and narrow
This is your ‘hood and it’s really rockin’
(Banchory Youth circa 1998)
The boys who wrote this included my then 13 year old son and his friends and they had such a deep love and affection for God and this prayer. Maybe your young folks will be able to stir up something that will touch you too.
What ideas do you have to add for the Lord’s Prayer? Any good Children’s Sermon ideas?
Please add to the conversation and share your ideas in the comments.
Marci Glass is the pastor of Southminster Presbyterian Church in Boise, Idaho. She is a contributing author of There’s a Woman in the Pulpit and blogs at Glass Overflowing. She’s an amateur cellist who enjoys hiking in the Boise foothills. She drinks her bourbon neat.
Julie Woods Rennick is minister of Earlston Parish Church in the Scottish Borders. She too is a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, she blogs at A Country Girl which contains mostly sermons and at Dark Threads and Golden, which is more reflective. She writes for Spill the Beans, and, if there is any time left enjoys exploring the Scottish countryside.
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