The Lord’s Prayer

Written by Corey Magstadt : November 10, 2007

For the last few months, our church has been studying the Lord’s Prayer together. Two key thoughts have guided our understanding of the prayer. First, the prayer is communal in that we are praying to our Father, give us our daily bread, lead us, and deliver us. Second, the prayer is participatory in that as we pray this prayer, we are being aligned to God’s kingdom purposes and join with him in the expansion of his kingdom on earth.

The first idea has been the most challenging. Our culture is highly individualistic, particularly in the suburban context where we find ourselves. Thinking in terms of “us” and “our” is completely foreign to most of us. This leads to two questions:

  1. What would an ideal church that truly lived out a participatory and communal understanding of the Lord’s Prayer look like?
  2. How can we help move people from individualistic and self-focused perspectives into a communal understanding of church, faith and life?

Any thoughts?

for further reading . . .

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2 Responses to “The Lord’s Prayer”

  1. Maria Kirby on November 10th, 2007 5:01 pm

    “An ideal church” sounds like an individualistic theme. If we are truly thinking of ‘our’ church, then we need to think of all the churches, even those that don’t belong to our denomination.

    I tend to think that community starts at home (rather than at church). I found that those who develop community at home understand community in the larger setting. The areas that I found community is developed at home are meals, work projects, games, and sharing burdens (such as babysitting for one another, errands for one another, passing along surpluses), and gifts. All this takes time and communication. I suspect that in this information age we can take advantage of new technologies to help us communicate better. But its probably going to take a work of grace for us develop habits of not booking our selves so full that we don’t have any time.

  2. Jason Barr on November 13th, 2007 10:11 am

    I’ve written a post on the Prayer at my own blog that may provide some useful context for this discussion.

    The assumption I made in my post, though I don’t think I ever said it out loud, is that the Prayer is clearly designed for a community in the first place, and not for individuals only to pray on their own (though I wouldn’t say there is no merit in praying it as an individual). Regarding question number 2, I don’t really have much in the way of “practical” solutions. I’ll echo to you the same thing I said in conversation with a friend over the weekend… how do we do it? First we should pray. Second we should… pray. Third through probably about a thousand we should pray. And I don’t just mean prayer as in individual people asking God to make something happen. I mean prayer as in praying by yourself, for God to change our hearts and show us how to live our own lives in ways that foster community, and also to take the initiative to ask others to pray with us - to cultivate a community centered around prayer that “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done - as it is in heaven, so also upon the earth”, so also among us as a community.

    That probably isn’t a terribly useful answer as far as 3-point plans of action go, but it’s all I got.

    Regarding number 1… I’m not sure there is such a thing as an “ideal” church. I doubt there is now, and I’m not sure there ever was even in Acts - though the practice of the church in chapters 2-6 is surely presented as a paradigm to follow. But I’ll throw out a few things. I think the church would pray together and gather to eat together more than just once a week, I think the church would be committed to viewing individuals’ resources as community resources for sharing together in a way that does not just turn into a system of revolving handouts but a way of enabling each other to escape both the dehumanizing effects of destitution and of welfare, and I think the church would be committed not just to studying the scriptures together but to engaging the Gospel as the story of Israel, fulfilled in Jesus, of God’s redemption and recreation of the world he created that had fallen, which awaits its fullness in Christ’s return. Such a church would engage worship and prayer not just in word and song but in image, in multisensory experience, and would search the volumes of tradition we have at our disposal to find practices from the ancient church, and from past expressions of the church, to help us engage that story and rehearse it. Those are just a few thoughts I have.

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