By Rebecca J. Stoltzfus, president
This week’s theme: Show us the extent of your faithful, loving presence
This week’s Scriptures: Genesis 12:1-4a | Psalm 121 | Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 | John 3:1-17
I pray the Lord’s prayer every morning. It is a practice that I began about five years ago. For me, this is one very tangible way that Jesus shows us how to follow him.
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.” (Luke 11:1)
Jesus was a teacher. And so it is interesting to me to think of the possible ways that I as a teacher might respond to such a question. I think my tendency might be to trust the Spirit to teach. I might have said something like: “Prayer is a very personal connection between you and God. The most important thing is intention. If you bring pure intention to God, you will learn how to pray.”
But that is not how Jesus responded. Here is an example when Jesus does not teach in a riddle or a parable, or in an object lesson with bread and wine. He very clearly and directly shows them how. In Matthew 6 (the second instance of the Lord’s prayer in the four gospels), Jesus says: “This, then, is how you should pray.”
I wonder how this teaching came across. Was it received as an example? “Do it something like this but make it your own.” Or did they all straightaway memorize his words?
Either way, this short prayer has become one tangible way that I follow Jesus. It is a comfort, when other parts of Jesus’s teachings seem more obscure.
In my many years of worshipping as a Methodist, I prayed the Lord’s prayer in unison with the whole congregation every Sunday. In our congregation in Ithaca, New York, the Lord’s prayer was taught to our children by closing every children’s time with it. In Mennonite worship it is used less regularly, but I understand that the Amish pray the Lord’s Prayer daily.
If you want to try making the Lord’s prayer a daily part of your life, Lent might be a good period in which to try it. Recognizing that the version I learned has been modified and translated through more than one language, over the years I too have changed the wording that I use. For example, I have modified the Father language of the opening line to this: God of Love, in my heart and in the universe, Holy, Holy, Holy are You. If there is a line that doesn’t work for you, consider how you might make it your own.
Jesus showed us how to pray. It is a simple and direct way to follow him.