Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name...
It's a prayer that's familiar to most of us. Many can quote it and it's held in reverence by many as Christ's perfect example to us of how to pray. But something about this prayer had never caught my eye until recently and I think the implications are huge as we teach our kids to pray.
The way our children pray is often a reflection of how they hear others pray.
God, thank you for loving me and giving me a Mommy and Daddy who love me. Help me to obey. Help me remember what I've studied for my spelling test tomorrow. Help me sleep well tonight. I love you. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
That could very easily be the prayer of a child who hears prayers like this often:
God, thank you for your grace and love towards me. Please grant me patience with the children you've blessed me with. Give me strength to point them to you. Help me be a better wife, mother, friend. I love you. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Anything wrong with these prayers?
Nope, not a thing. They are very personal prayers to the God whom we love.
BUT... here's some food for thought.
Not too long ago, I read portions of the book Taking Hold of God and found the great reformer Martin Luther's perspective on the Lord's Prayer to be quite enlightening. One of his points was that it is not a personal prayer. Meaning it is "our Father" not "my Father", give us our daily bread not give me my daily bread, forgive us our debts not forgive me my debts and lead us not into temptation not lead me not into temptation.
The reason it struck me as profound, is because I am all about very personal prayer. I pray for myself, others I know and for missions. But it never before struck me to pray for the Church at large (meaning all believers all over the world). It seems vague. Impersonal. Ineffective. Unimportant.
It never once stood out to me that when the disciples asked Jesus how they should pray, Jesus gave them an example of prayer for the entire Body. After realizing that this is the example that Christ gave us, I look at what I used to consider "vague, impersonal prayers" totally differently. It kind of gives me goosebumps to think of my prayer on that grand of a scale. Like in the sense that I'm asking God to weave all things among all the members of the body of Christ into one grand story that brings him glory. It kind of brings everything into perspective a little bit... even some of the bad stuff. How AMAZING would it be if the whole Church rose up and prayed this for each other... had this perspective.. if in unison we cried out "Our Father..."
Now when I pray the Lord's Prayer, I pray it with more than myself or family or people close by in mind. I see it as a beautiful plea to the Father of his children to move powerfully among us for the sake of his kingdom. It gives me a greater passion and joy to see other Believers succeed. Other blogs. Other churches. Other families. Other women. To the glory of his name. Kind of deals with my jealousy issues too. Ouch.
So, what do I take away from this in relation to teaching kids to pray?
Don't misunderstand me. There are incredible benefits from teaching my boys and kids at church the very personal relationship we have with God and that we can come to him with anything. But I think perhaps I too often swing to an extreme that leaves the rest of my brothers and sisters in Christ out of the equation. I'm thankful for the reminder by Christ himself that it's not all about me and my little world. May the Church bring him glory.
Tomorrow we'll take a look at a couple of fun activities you can do to teach kids the Lord's Prayer.
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