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 debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.
Presbyterian Hymnal (pg. 16)
The Lord’s Prayer is found in the Gospel of Matthew alone and it offers a model prayer for Jesus’ disciples to use as a guide for offering their own personal prayers. Jesus’ instruction is set within the context of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is addressing a large crowd that has gathered to listen to him and to be taught by him. Because this prayer may be viewed as a teaching tool, some object to its use as a prayer for worship. While I recognize its importance as a teaching tool, I do believe it has much to offer a congregation in its regular prayer/worship life. Therefore, I am glad that it is a regular component of our worship and is included in almost every worship service held here at First Presbyterian Church.
The first thing we notice about this prayer is that it uses the first person plural possessive adjective, “our.” While an individual might be tempted to use the first person singular possessive adjective, Jesus teaches us to address God as “Our Father.” Nevertheless, unless the person knows himself or herself to be in such a relationship with God that he or she might personally address God as “My Father,” then “Our Father” would have little meaning. Inasmuch as Jesus is addressing this large assembly of “would be disciples,” He instructs them to pray saying, “Our Father,” and so we are to follow suit, recognizing that God is Father of us all. Regardless of our culture, nationality, or race, if we know Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, then we are encouraged and entitled to address God as “Our Father.”
Dear God, Our elder brother, Jesus, has many brothers and sisters within the Christian family. He has taught us that each one of us is one among many. While God has many children He loves each one of us as if there was only one of us to love, so that we can legitimately address You as “My Father,” but He desires us to acknowledge our brothers and sisters within the Christian family and thus to address You as “Our Father.” In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.