First the Kingdom, episode 34: Praying the Lord’s Prayer
Back in 1963, the day in our local Junior High school began either in the main auditorium or home room with the pledge of allegiance and the Lord’s Prayer. Eventually a recent Supreme Court decision that school sponsored prayer was unconstitutional began to change that tradition. I specifically remember our home room teacher announcing to us that she would continue to pray the Lord’s Prayer, but also that anyone in the room could freely opt out.
Even though prayer was not technically banned from schools, the public perception was that our government had joined the movement of modern times against simple faith in an all-powerful God. As much as the opponents of public prayer in schools have denied this, the results speak for themselves. The fact is, believers can always pray in the USA. The real loss is what the children who did not know Christ might have gained from learning this prayer back then. Today I would add that even some children of of believing families have often lost the rich benefits of knowing and reciting this prayer.
Some time back I attended the funeral of a retired police officer. At the grave site, the pastor recited a passage of scripture and began praying “Our Father, Who art in heaven….” Immediately, and without prompting, everyone there began to join him in the prayer that was well known to his generation. It was a refreshing experience that brought me back to those junior high school days when hundreds of students would recite this prayer together!
One complaint I heard from a Jewish girl was that she did not want to pray a Christian prayer. In fact all the elements of this prayer can be found in the prayers of their own Hebrew scriptures, known to Christians as the Old Testament. I count myself greatly and richly blessed to have been taught from the entire Bible, both the old and new testaments. In the Lord’s Prayer I am reminded how Jesus felt about past generations, the promises that were given unto them, and the hope of the fulfillment that he was bringing.
This model prayer sums up the foundational and crucial elements of the Christian life. It keeps us mindful of the intimate relationship we have with our Heavenly Father, and our goal to glorify Him.
As we pray We become conscious of our part in bringing righteousness, peace and joy – His kingdom to this earth. We understand our constant need for Him, His provisions and His forgiveness, as well as our need to forgive others.
Finally in it we seek for His guidance and protection every day, and acknowledge that everything good, loving and holy comes from His reign over us in power and eternal victory.
Anyone who is at all familiar with the prayers in the Bible should know that God listens to all sorts of prayers. We are in no way limited to praying this one short prayer. At the same time the use of this or any memorized prayer should not be looked down on as ritualistic. what is in our hearts? That seems to be the important thing. When I think of how Jesus Himself gave us this wonderful gift to teach us and encourage us in prayer, how or why would we refuse it?
I invite you to pray along with me today:
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.