I grew up in a church that did not regularly pray the Lord’s Prayer during worship services. One of my Youth Director, perhaps fearing my education at “Mary Queen Of the Holy Rosary School”, told me not to pray the Lord’s Prayer. He emphasized it was just a model prayer not intended to be prayed! He included the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew Six’s injunction not to “pile up empty phrases like the gentiles (who think they will be heard for their many words)”! I suppose that youth leader failed to realize his lumping the Lord’s Prayer in with “vain repetition” inferred that he saw these words of Jesus as “empty phrases”. Now that is a more dangerous theology than anything I picked up at Catholic School. Growing up we were encouraged to memorize Scripture, but not to pray the Lord’s Prayer- that seems kind of weird.
So it is later in my life that I am coming to see the Lord’s Prayer as a crucial part of my own faith practice. I now usually close my prayers with the Lord’s Prayer. It works like a check-list beckoning me to move beyond my own sentiments or momentary worries to consider the coming Kingdom of God. It moves me beyond “my needs” to “forgive us, leading us, give us, and deliver us”. I often pause now when praying the Lord’s Prayer and ask myself: “Is my extemporaneous prayer in line with Jesus’ Prayer”? Sunday I will preach about the Lord’s Prayer and share the following check list. Maybe it will aid your praying!
Grace and Peace
“Pray then in this way”
Check your own extemporaneous prayer against Jesus’ Prayer
“Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be your Name”
o Do I remember my relationship with Christ , my Creator, and the Holy Spirit?
o Do I focus on Heaven (my destination)?
o Am I thinking about Holiness?
o Am I praying in the plural or singular?
“Your Kingdom Come; Your will be done on earth as in Heaven”
o What is God’s will?
o Am I working to bring God’s will about?
o Do I remember God’s Kingdom will come and set all things right?
“Give us this day our daily bread”
o What are our daily needs?
o Who else on earth needs bread?
“And Forgive us, our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”
o Where are we living out of sync with God’s will?
o Who do I need to forgive?
o Where am I caught in a web of un-forgiveness?
“And Lead us not into temptation “
o What pulls me off God’s path?
o What distracts me?
“But Deliver us from evil”
o What am I worried about?
o What threatens peace, love and community?
o Who do we trust to deliver us?
o Where can I resist evil, injustice or oppression?
“For Yours is the Kingdom, the power and the glory- forever!”
o Am I rooted in God’s coming kingdom?
o Is Jesus our power?
o Is it about us or God’s glory, power and reign?
o Do I say “so be it” in my life?
o Do I long to match my life with God’s plan?