What if we used the Lord’s Prayer as a pattern instead of a formula? How might our prayers better reflect our present day circumstances?
With a formula one need only pour in the ingredients and stir.
On the other hand a pattern allows for adaptations. I recall watching my mother make a dress using a pattern. First there were dozens if not hundreds of types and colors of cloth to choose from. Second the pattern included instructions so it could be adapted to exactly fit the person who would wear it. And most significantly, because my mother had made dozens of garments, occasionally she would substitute part of the pattern with an element from a different garment so that the finished item would be uniquely hers.
What if we approached the Lord’s Prayer as a pattern? If Jesus had meant it as a formula, then we ought to say it in ancient Greek if not Aramaic. Differences between the prayer as recorded in Matthew Gospel versus Luke’s shorter version (below) show that it was intended as a pattern. (Neither Mark nor John record this prayer.) Use the table below as a pattern for your own prayer and share it in the comments.
|As recorded by Luke (NRSV)||Study Notes||Your Prayer|
|Father, hallowed be your name.||Using ‘Father’, especially without ‘in heaven’ as in Matthew, reminds us that God is with us. ‘Hallowed be your name reminds us that God remains fully other. What title would help you express both God with us and fully other?|
|Your Kingdom come.||Prayer seeks to advance God’s Kingdom, not to simplify life. Are we willing to accept God’s design for life?|
|Give us each day our daily bread.||When Israel escaped Egypt God gave them manna each night so they would have enough for the next day, and only the next day. What does your community need for the next 24 hours?|
|And forgive us our sins, as we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.||The gift of easily forgiving debts others owe us is related to how well we receive forgiveness. Who owes you restitution? Can you let that debt go so you can live freely?|
|And do not bring us to time of trial.||Only the devil tempts us to sin. Yet God allows life to test people. What situation will test our physical or spiritual endurance?|
I will have more to say about Luke 11:1-13 at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, July 28th.
Robert Shaw, Pastor
The earliest prayers I remember were said at our dinner table when we gave thanks for food and for family. We often said:
God is good. God is great. By His hands all are fed. Thank you God for our daily bread. Amen.
What prayer do you use at your dinner table?