Most of the time when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we probably don’t think much about it. For many congregations it often comes in the context of Sunday morning worship, when the pastor invites the congregation to pray the prayer at the end of a longer pastoral prayer. We also pray the Lord’s Prayer as a part of the liturgy for Holy Communion. In fact, the Lord’s Prayer is so enmeshed in the liturgy of worship that I sometimes wonder if this causes us not to think seriously about what it is that we’re praying. This is the most important prayer we have—it’s the one Jesus taught us to pray!
I’ve written in the past about Richard Day’s 1578 collection, A Booke of Christian Prayers. In it, Day offers what he calls “A short speech before the Lord’s Prayer.” This little preface to the Lord’s Prayer strikes me as a wonderful way to center our hearts and focus our minds on what we are actually saying when we recite the Lord’s Prayer itself. Here’s what Day suggests:O Heavenly Father, O most merciful God, I most wretched sinner am unworthy to lift up my hands and eyes unto thee, or to trouble thee with my prayers. Nevertheless, forasmuch as thou hast commanded all men to pray and promised that thou wilt hear us: And moreover, prescribed us a form of prayer in express words, by thy well beloved Son Jesus Christ: being driven by thy commandment, and trusting to thy promises, I pray unto thee in the name of my Lord, with all the godly upon earth, saying as he hath taught us: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
[This post is part of a series on Richard Day’s 1578 publication, A Booke of Christian Prayers. Click here for other posts in the series]