The Lord’s Prayer
At Awakening Church we are spending our Sundays during the month of August praying, which is a lovely continuation of a rhythm I’ve found myself in this summer while Jay Kim and I co-taught the Summer Study Theology track. As we journeyed through Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship, we started every session with a few minutes of centering prayer – a kind of silent, contemplative prayer – and we closed this time by having everyone pray the Lord’s Prayer aloud together:
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen
We incorporated this into the movement of our group for a few reasons. First, Bonhoeffer himself spends a significant amount of time talking about the Lord’s Prayer. He writes, “Jesus told His disciples not only how to pray but also what to pray. The Lord’s Prayer is not merely the pattern prayer, it is the way Christians must pray” (165). Even while Bonhoeffer’s statement seems a bit extreme, I’ve realized how praying the Lord’s Prayer can be influential communally and individually.
The communal nature of the Lord’s Prayer
When I lived in San Diego going to college, part of my church’s service every Sunday was praying the Lord’s Prayer aloud together. Praying the same words to express our individual and communal needs was one of my favorite parts about worshipping there. And then when I was living in Spain my junior year, I would go to mass and pray:
Padre nuestro que estás en el cielo, santificado sea tu nombre.
Venga tu reino, hágase tu voluntad en la tierra así como en el cielo.
Danos hoy nuestro pan de cada día.
Perdónanos nuestras ofensas como también nosotros hemos perdonado a nuestros ofensores.
Y no nos dejes caer en tentación, sino líbranos del mal.
Porque tuyos son el reino y el poder y la gloria para siempre. Amen.
… knowing that an entire world away my community in San Diego was praying exactly the same thing. Praying the Lord’s Prayer connects me to Christians around the world and across language barriers, but it also connects me to Christians across time – Christians have been praying this way for centuries and joining in that tradition reminded me then (and reminds me now) that I’m not alone. And that’s always a good thing to know.
The individual nature of the Lord’s Prayer:
The Lord’s Prayer has also been instrumental in my individual prayer life, helping me talk to God when I have been at a complete loss. You know when you go through something really big with another person – like a major event or experience you shared or even a super personal conversation – and you’re feeling like you’ve reached a tipping point in your relationship? Either you just graduated to the next level, from “somebody-I-know” to “my-new-BFF”, or it was too much too soon and you’re both going to pretend it didn’t happen and try to fall back to the “normal” relationship you had before… But you don’t know which it’s going to be until you see them again, because it legitimately could go either way, so you’re hesitant and unsure. This totally happens to me. It happens to me in my relationship with God too. Last summer I went on a mission trip to El Salvador – and it was one of the select few times I was absolutely sure God had called me to do something. We were tight. It was amazing. And then I came back. Anticlimactic to say the least. I wasn’t sure how things were going to go with us, and I suddenly found myself really shy and awkward talking to God. I didn’t know what to say. It felt like I didn’t know how to attentively listen anymore now that I wasn’t being punched in face with the presence of God. So I turned to the liturgy, and started praying the Lord’s Prayer. This helped me get past the awkwardness and re-establish the rhythms I needed for a daily prayer life when I didn’t have the words or the feelings anymore.
So, when we had to opportunity to examine the Lord’s Prayer in depth during Summer Study, I wanted our community to really engage with the words and the meaning of each petition. I asked them to rewrite each petition in their own words. Here’s the paraphrase we created together:
Our holy God and Father, as brothers and sisters we come together to lift your holy name high.
We long to see the fullness of the glory of God in us and in our world.
Help us live in your will today as we prepare for your holy sovereignty to be fulfilled on earth as well.
Help us each day to trust your provision.
We know we will do wrong, and wrong will be done to us, so forgive us and help us to forgive.
May our trust in you help us persevere in temptation.
Rescue your people from evil into your holy presence.
You are the King whose people and creation exist to praise you.
May all glory and honor be given to you for all eternity.