Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Lord's Prayer, Sermon 1

Pray In This Way

Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:1-4

January 23, 2011

First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, IL

Christina Berry

Matthew 6: 9-13

"Pray then in this way: 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.”

Luke 11: 1-4

He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John 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. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial."

Somebody sent me a prayer last week, a prayer for 2011.

Dear Lord;

My prayer for 2011 is for a fat bank account & a thin body.

Please don't mix these up like last year.


In our text this week, Jesus is describing to the disciples the way in which they should pray.

You will notice that nowhere in this prayer is there mention of good hair, a raise, a better car, a good grade on a spelling test, or the Bears/Packers game! Not that you can’t pray for those things – just that it isn’t really what Jesus had in mind! How many of you learned the Lord’s Prayer as children? Youth? Adults?

How many of you have ever just said the Lord’s Prayer without thinking, without reflection, as if you were chanting meaningless words? How many of you have ever thought of the Lord’s Prayer as simply God’s gift to us as a way to dismiss a church meeting?

How many of you have ever gotten distracted during the prayer and forgotten the words, or said the wrong ones?

I once was leading the Lord’s Prayer in worship and got to thinking about all the funny stories about it, like the little kid who said God’s name is Howard. Howard? Yes, Our father who art in heaven, Howard be thy name. And the little girl who said God must do a lot of painting in heaven, because of that prayer that starts, “Our father who does art in heaven…”

Anyway, I was running along through the prayer, and without even thinking, I said, “And deliver us some e-mail…”

As we begin this series of worship and preaching about the Lord’s Prayer, consider what this prayer means to you, and has meant to you. One writer says, “Martin Luther described the Lord’s Prayer as the greatest martyr, ‘for everybody tortures and abuses it.’ It is mostly, of course, the abuse of familiarity. Because we say it so often and because its words have the flow of poetry, we are likely to speak it without investment of either mind or heart.

Jesus warned, ‘In your prayers do not go babbling on like the heathen, who imagine that the more they say the more likely they are to be heard’ (Matt. 6:7 NEB). It’s ironic, isn’t it, that the prayer Jesus gave us is probably the most frequent instrument of violation for the warning he gave us.”


One of our methods to focus our attention on this prayer in a more intentional way will be to think about alternate versions. For example, this translation of the prayer is from the Aramaic into Old English:

Our Father-Mother Who art above and within:

Hallowed be Thy Name in twofold Trinity.

In Wisdom, Love and Equity Thy Kingdom come to all.

Thy will be done, As in Heaven so in Earth.

Give us day by day to partake of Thy holy Bread,

and the fruit of the living Vine.

As Thou dost forgive us our trespasses,

so may we forgive others who trespass against us.

Shew upon us Thy goodness, that to others we may shew the same.

In the hour of temptation, deliver us from evil.


That’s not too far from our understanding of the prayer in modern English. But how about this switch, from Old English to new, since Jesus gave us this prayer as a model of brevity:

dad@hvn ur spshl

our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name

we want wot u want

thy kingdom come, thy will be done

& urth 2 b like hvn

on earth as it is in heaven

giv us food

give us this day our daily bread

& 4giv r sins

forgive us our sins,

lyk we 4giv uvaz

as we forgive those who sin against us

don’t test us! save us!

lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil

bcos we know ur boss

for thine is the kingdom,

ur tuf & ur cool 4eva!

and the power and the glory forever



This simple prayer, the response of Jesus when the disciples asked, “Lord, teach us to pray,” is a model for our own prayers. It addresses God, and God’s desires, not ours. It is brief and succinct, with no flowery or showy words. For many people, it is the first prayer they learn and the last prayer they forget, often the last prayer we make on this earth.

In the weeks to come, we’ll look more closely at this prayer. But for today, and for this week, I want to invite you to commit to praying this prayer at least once a day, every day, slowly, thinking about what it really, really means to YOU.

Listen, watch, now, and let these words soak in:



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