In Luke’s gospel, chapter 11, verses 1 to 4, we read these both familiar and powerful words –
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John [the Baptist] taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:
“‘Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”
You no doubt recognise this prayer, albeit it reads a little different to how we usually pray it!
In particular the doxology (ending) of the Lord’s Prayer that we are familiar with is not found in the Bible – it originates from the “Didache” (Teaching) – a first or second century work whose authorship was considered questionable (it was attributed to the Twelve Apostles) and so it was not considered to be Scripture – even so this is where we find the earliest and shorter doxology, “for yours is the power and the glory forever”.
Lent begins this month on 6th March (Ash Wednesday). In the New Testament Jesus took forty days in the desert to prepare for his adult ministry in Galilee and Jerusalem. Following this example Christians for centuries now, have taken the forty days during which the days “lengthen” in the run up to Easter, to better study and practice their Faith – often today we do this in the form of a Lent Course.
For our Lent Course this year, we are going to look at “Faith through The Lord’s Prayer”.
The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer that in Luke’s gospel Jesus taught his disciples to pray. For two millennia Christians have prayed this “Christian treasure” of a prayer. Today – with its doxology – we continue to pray it every week in church on a Sunday. We also use it in a baptism service, a wedding, and a funeral. You may have prayed it in school. You may pray it today at home or even at work.
In Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 8:9-15) the Lord’s Prayer is given as a model for prayer too.
Jesus says in Luke, “When you pray, say…” but in Matthew, Jesus says, “This then is how you should pray…”. If you have ever wondered ‘how to pray’ then the Lord’s Prayer is probably the best part of the Bible that we can turn to.
Every type of prayer that we use – be they set prayers written for us – or prayers of our own that we pray freely and instantly in our own conversations with God – I suspect that these prayers near always contain aspects of the Lord’s Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer teaches us different ways to pray and different things that we can pray for. It gives us a way to confidently talk to God too.
Steven Croft, the Bishop of Sheffield – whose study material we will be using – introduces the Lord’s Prayer like this – He writes:
God is approachable. Prayer is something anyone can do. You don’t have to use complicated words or flowery language. God isn’t swayed by arguments or by length or by skill in prayer. Here [in the Lord’s Prayer] are some words you can say, but here also is a deep pattern for prayer. Here is way of seeing God and the world and yourself which is profound and revolutionary and good news.
Why not join us for our Lent Course? We will begin on Monday 11th March at 7:30pm in the church hall. We are usually a group of 20-25. There will be a wide range of people with us – from longstanding church members to those who have been with us just a few months. Do come along and give it a go. You will be made very welcome. The Lord’s Prayer has the power to speak to both the young and the old alike.
Finally, a very exciting news item… I was very pleased to announce last month in church that from the end of June we will have Gareth Erlandson with us as our new full-time Curate! We’ve included a very short piece on Gareth for you in this month’s magazine. In April’s magazine Gareth will introduce himself a little more fully. Please keep Gareth in your prayers as he concludes his ordination training. Thank you.
In Christ, Adam