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February 28, 2009



My biggest problem with the Lord's prayer is knowing which version we're using... It's always assumed we know it by heart, but I first learnt trespasses, then learnt sins (growing up in England) and now am confronted by debts and debtors.
So, when "we will now say the Lord's prayer" is announced, instead of being able to pray and mean it, I'm always nervous and wondering which version to use, which rather defeats the point of all saying it together aloud.

angela almond

Being fortunate enough to have a dataprojector for use in services, we display the words on the Big Screen.

We have a number of worshoppers from local hoems for people with learning difficulties, and they love to share in the LP with us.

I am constantly moved by the way that in the OAP homes, when we take services there, even the most 'distant' dementia patients seem to understand when we say the Lord's Prayer, and join in with us.

I'm a Baptist through and through - but agree that a short, well crafted piece of liturgy beats a rambling ill-considered extempore prayer when helping the rest of us to engage in worship.


I find when I visit very old people,or those whose short term memory is impaired by age or illness, things like the Lord's Prayer or the 23rd Psalm are the touching points for their innate spirituality. When I reflect on this, I sometimes wonder what will happen when later generations are similarly incapacitated and have no such wells upon which to draw. Whilst I know almost by heart countless hymns and with effort can recite some chunks of scripture, many of my contemporaries will 'really just' struggle to 'er, Lord, Lord' to recall anything substantive, and that is truly sad.

Jim Gordon

Hello Helen. Sure the different versions can be a bit tricky - but nothing that can't be solved by those leading worship making clear what version is being used. And if it is available as printed text or on screen so much the better.

Angela - absolutely, that those with learning disabilities are included either by saying it, or using pictures or actions. (By the way - I do like your neologism "worshoppers" - that would be those who idolise shopping, eh? :)

Catriona, you raise one of the deep questions to be asked of a culture impatient with "learning by rote", as if committing important stuff to memory was somehow in itself a bad thing. Across the Christian tradition, memory and memorising are ways of cherishing truth, not obscuring it. Like you I've often touched deeply into those places in others closed by hurt, pain, lost memories, or inner confusion, by quietly leading (and being led) in prayer by using the Lord's Prayer.

Thanks for all the comments and honest feedback - shalom.


Surely worshoppers are people who flit from church to church looking for a product that they want to buy ;-)

Simon Jones

This is a really thopught-provoking post, Jim. Thanks for taking time to respond to comments.

Yesterday our service was led by a young women exploring her call to Baptist ministry. She produced a very well-crafted liturgy using scripture and the daily papers to help us reflect on the chaos of the world and the cross of Christ - and the link between them.

It never dawned on her to use the Lord's Prayer - though it would have been so appropriate. I suspect the major reason for that is that its use has not been modelled to her in the context where she is learning how to do ministry - ie from me and my colleagues.

I think the point about the generations is a good one. What version of the Lord's Paryer do people learn if any? This means that we need to provide a version - either in print or on the screen for people to use - unless we allow people to use the version they know accepting that people will be saying the same prayer but in slightly different words.

But it's a deeper point than that, isn't it? We bemoan the fact that those going through education today and for the past generation have not learned the value of memorising things. But this is part of a much deeper change, mentioned in a recent BBC poll, which is that we no longer have a shared value base (perhaps the former is linked to the latter).

I perceive this applies even in our churches where people have often responded to the invitation to forgiveness and individual salvation but have yet to embrace the shared values of discipleship. The Lord's Prayer is one pithy statement of Christian values to be embraced by all disicples.

Last night we shared communion at our Later service standing in a circle and therefore facing each other. And after we had shared the bread and wine, we reflected on the unity of a circle and our unity in Christ as partakers of his meal (interestingly our communion liturgy is never regarded as mere repetition!). But I wonder what values unite us and where we not only learn those values but have them reinforced through our gatherings.

Communion reminds us of our relationship with God in Christ and the ground of our salvation on a weekly or monthly basis (depending on how often we share it). But what reminds us of the values of discipleship? Maybe your reflections on the Lord's Prayer are a vital pointer to where we'll find such help.

Sorry this is a long response but I am grateful for your stimulating thoughts.

russell New Zealand

In reflection on the Lord's Prayer: The difference between repetition and mere repetition; This history of this in the Church is interesting; In the early church the Lords Prayer was an individual prayer [Didache 8:2 - written around the year110] telling us to pray this three times a day. Cyril of Jerusalem [350] directs the Lord's prayer as part of a liturgical service before holy communion and prayed only by the baptised; i.e. full members of the Christian community. Together with the Lord's Supper, it became one of the most holy treasures of the church, reserved for full members only and not disclosed to those who stood outside [disciplina arcanum]. In short - it was a privilege to pray this. The awe in which it was approached is indicated by this introduction:

Make us worthy, O Lord, that we joyously and without presumption may make bold to invoke Thee, the hevenly God, as Father and to say: Our Father......

By the statement 'The Lord's Prayer in particular is placed in the Sermon on the Mount' the lukan [Luke 11:1-4] version is down-played which is not on the Mount, is to the disciples not the public and being shorter [when you consider that scripture is more often added to and not subtracted] is probably the more accurate. It is critical to know the differences; for instance the extended Matthew version contains some identical Greek terminology that references to the prayers of Jesus in The Garden of Gethsemene. There are hidden gems in escalogical references that have been lost by smoothed over translations ;for instance the Greek word 'esiousious' usually translated 'daily' can equally mean 'the coming day' and 'for the future'. A more accurate translation of 'give us today our daily bread' is 'our meal still to come grant us today' and another more accurate translation further on is 'bring us not to the Breaking Point but wrest us from the Evil One'. The word used is not evil [poneron] but the Evil One [Poneros] and many scholars now read this term 'Breaking Point' - Peirasmos, as the great Test of all history.

I guess my point is that although we are in faith, lets not become lazy and formatted by protocols. It is a challenge to cut away the culture, traditions, dogma, history, assumptions assoicated with our faith and put the work in as individuals to find the Truth in scripture.

As followers of our Beloved, our one and only Hope who by His one perfect gift of salvation pulls us from the pit and gives us life, this glorious prayer is said by over 2 billion people through-out the world every Easter Sunday. In the spirit of Christ and even from the other side of the world I say it with you and pray that God blesses you and your families - from New Zealand! +


I understand that we pray to god but can we also pray to Jesus?

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