Learning to pray, learning to live

Learning to pray, learning to live

[IMAGE: The Lord’s Prayer in many different languages at the Pater Noster Church in Jerusalem]

This post is part of the ON THE WAY sermon series at St Mark’s Anglican Church, Casino July/October 2022


No doubt we have all been surprised by different versions of the Lord’s Prayer at different times.

RCs and Anglicans sometimes stop at different places.

  • Traditional version vs new translation, especially at funerals.
  • Then there was the in-between version used in AAPB
  • Today we have another version in Luke 11!

Matthew

The form of the Lord’s Prayer that we use in church is based on the version in Matthew 6, where the Lord’s Prayer sits at the very centre of the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5 to 7). As Matthew conveys the teaching of Jesus for the disciples, this Prayer serves as the essence of discipleship. 

This prayer tells us who we are, how we are to pray, and how we are to live.,

But even then we do not quite say it how Matthew records it. We change the words at various points! That surely invites us to think about why that is so?

As Matthew records it, the prayer goes like this:

Our Father in heaven, 
hallowed be your name. 
Your kingdom come. 
Your will be done, 
on earth as it is in heaven. 
Give us this day our daily bread. 
And forgive us our debts, 
as we also have forgiven our debtors. 
And do not bring us to the time of trial, 
but rescue us from the evil one.
[Matthew 6:9–13]

The Didache

Our familiar versions are influenced by Didache 8:2:

And do not pray as the wicked [do]; 
pray instead this way, as the Lord directed in his gospel:

Our Father who are in heaven: 
May your name be acclaimed as holy,
May your kingdom come.
May your will come to pass on earth as it does in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread,
And cancel for us our debt,
As we cancel [debts] for those who are indebted to us.
And do not bring us into temptation,
But preserve us from evil [or, from the evil one].
For power and glory are yours forever.

Pray this way thrice daily. [Niederwimmer, Hermeneia, 134]

Luke

Luke 11 offers us a third ancient version of the Lord’s Prayer. In the opinion of many scholars, the version in Luke is the more authentic:

Father, 
hallowed be your name. 
Your kingdom come. 
Give us each day our daily bread. 
And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. 
And do not bring us to the time of trial.

The brevity and directness of this version supports the idea that we are very close to the words of Jesus here. 

Over time, sacred texts acquire additional lines, but they rarely lose anything. They grow more complicated rather than become simpler as time passes.

In any case, whether it is the most primitive version of our sacred prayer, it is Luke’s version that we are invited to reflect on this morning.


Learning pray, learning to live prayerfully

As part of our reflection process on these weeks when we walk to Jerusalem alongside Jesus, let’s Look at the Lord’s Prayer through the lens of discipleship. What does this prayer—and specifically this version of that prayer—teach us about what it means to be Jesus people here in Casino this year?

We could take each line in Luke’s version, but even if I just spoke for (say) 2 minutes about each of those 6 lines, that would add 12 minutes to the length of this sermon!

Instead of that, which would be very easy for me to do—except that I would probably need more than 2 minutes for all of those lines—let’s do it differently.

Let me assign you some homework for this week: one line from the Lord’s Prayer for each day of the week. 

MONDAY: Father

  • What does it mean that we can think of the love at the very heart of the cosmos as “Father”?
  • Is this true for everyone?

TUESDAY: hallowed be your name. 

  • How do I “hallow” the name of God?
  • How does my life reflect the character of God, and how do the dynamics of our church community reflect the eternal love of Father, Son and Spirit.

WEDNESDAY: Your kingdom come. 

  • Does my life look like God is in charge?
  • How do I make changes so that God’s will is done on earth as in heaven?

THURSDAY: Give us each day our daily bread. 

  • Do I really trust God for each day as it comes?
  • How do I share any surplus to make other lives better?

FRIDAY: And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. 

  • Do I really want God to forgive me my sins only to the same degree that I let go of every complaint and grudge I have ever about anyone else?
  • What if God treated me the way I treat everyone else?

SATURDAY: And do not bring us to the time of trial.

  • Tough times always come, even though we wish they did not.
  • If we cannot avoid the bad patches, how does my faith help me survive them?

Go well with those questions.

As you fashion your answer to them you are shaping your own identity as a Jesus person here in Casino.

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