Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland

New thoughts on familiar prayers

Thought for the week

EACH week an member of the local clergy will be sharing a thought for the week. This week the Rev. C. W. Bell, Rector of Eglantine Parish

ON a recent visit to the Belfast Odyssey's W5 Interactive Exhibition I came across the following quotation, 'Discovery is not seeing new landscapes, but having new eyes'- Marcel Proust.

In our prayer lives, as elsewhere, it is only too easy to get stuck in the rut of the too familiar.

At Church Services, especially for those of us who use Prayer Books, it is only too easy to repeat words parrot-fashion; not to really think about the words used in prayer. So it can be stimulating to read familiar words used in prayer. And it can be stimulating to read familiar words in a translation which is new to us.

Take a look at the Lord's prayer; for example, in the following version, which comes from Canada:

Our Father,
May all People honour You.
May your rule be accepted
And Your purpose be accomplished
As in Heaven so now on earth.
Give us today the food we need.
Forgive us the wrong we have done
As we forgive those who have wronged us.
Save us from losing our faith in you
And deliver us from the power of evil.

Yes, even the Lord's Prayer can be looked at in new ways!

An old Book Mark/Prayer Card, which I was given many years ago has the following thoughts printed on it:

'The few words that make up the 'Model Prayer' say at least eight things about the person who strives to follow the teaching of Jesus Christ:

1. Our Father - The Prayer of the Lowly Child. A reminder that we are all God's Children, made in His image whether we are aware of the fact or not. He loved us before we loved Him.

2. Hallowed by your Name - The Prayer of the devout Worshipper. Words that can only be prayed by one who is sincere in the their Worship. Holy things are for Holy people. 'Holy' means set apart for God. 'Hallowed' means respected. Good manners are always worth showing.

3. Your Kingdom come - The Prayer of the Loyal Citizen. Christians are citizens of two kingdoms - one earthly, one Heavenly. We want the law of God to rule in our land. We want the goodness of the Gospel to rule in our land. We have been given the Ten Commandments to guide our conduct.

4.Your will be done - The Prayer of the Obedient Servant. Jesus was the Greatest (and Humblest) Servant who ever lived. His prayer to the Father was 'Your will be done, not mine.' He was obedient, even to Death on a Cross, for the sins of the World.

5.Give us our daily bread - The Prayer of the Needy Beggar. Someone once described preaching the Gospel as 'one needy beggar telling another needy beggar where they both can find bread.'

6. Forgive us our sins - The Prayer of the Discharged Debtor. Before God we are all people in debt, who have been let off. We cannot earn God's forgiveness. We cannot buy it either. The grace of God is a free gift.

7. Lead us not into temptation - The Prayer of the Guided Pilgrim. Jesus never promised that we would be free from temptation but that with His help we would have the power to overcome them.

8.Deliver us from evil - The Prayer of the Liberated Captive. This could also be translated 'Deliver us from the Power of the Evil One - The Devil'. There seems to be so much evil reported every day in the News Bulletins! The Christian conviction is that Good will win in the end.

Amen - so be it.