Monday, February 17, 2014

Why We Don't Say the Lord's Prayer on Sunday

I taught on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount on Sunday. I gave a sweeping overview of his Sermon to help us see that Jesus was calling us to a kingdom lifestyle NOW to start the process of bringing heaven to earth, as Jesus will do fully when he comes again.

I touched briefly on the Lord's Prayer. I had written the following comments as a part of my message but then realized that they weren't relevant to my point, so I deleted them. I pass them on here to simply answer the question: Why don't we say the Lord's Prayer on Sunday?

People often ask me why we don’t pray the Lord’s prayer in church for our Sunday services. Many people grew up praying this in unison as a part of their church service and feel it missing in their Cedarbrook experience.  

There are two reasons for this and they are both rooted in the very text where the Lord’s Prayer is mentioned. One reason is: Jesus didn’t give this prayer to pray in public services. He mentions that just before the prayer:
When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:6

I think it’s ironic that Jesus told us to not pray this in public but now it’s a standard prayer in a lot of church services.

The other reason we don’t pray this prayer is something Jesus also said here in context:
….And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:7,8

In other words, some people seem to think that there is value is saying the prayer, all on its own…like the words have some kind of magical power, even if they don’t mean anything to them. But that’s the last kind of prayer God wants to hear. He wants us to be praying prayers from the heart. Prayers that we mean.  Prayers that mean nothing are what pagans do. They are more like incantations…magical word formulas to manipulate the gods.

I don’t have anything against people saying the Lord’s Prayer in public, as long as the words are heart felt expressions of how God’s people corporately feel.

I hope this helps answer the question. Of course, for creatures of habit, this answer might not satisfy. The Lord’s Prayer just “feels right” and no answer will change that. I’m okay with that too. I just want to let people know my reasoning. Peace.


Anonymous said...

I have never thought of it that way but have always struggled with saying that prayer just because we all seem to have learned it as children. We just recite it not even hearing the words -most of the time. There are times when it is prayed as a group with meaning-but more ritual-kind sad in a way---

Anonymous said...

At my current church they had a message series where they dissected the Lord's Prayer phrase by phrase, almost word by word, and made it personal. If we learn to say that prayer singularly instead of in the plural tense then it gets personal and is a very powerful prayer.