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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, October 31, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Luke 11:1–13            

He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.” And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs. “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (NRSV)

In today’s verses from Luke’s gospel, we come upon one of two versions of the Lord’s Prayer in the scriptures (the other is in Matthew). It is likely the most familiar prayer for those of us who are Protestant Christians. And it brought to my mind a well-intended but very unpopular worship change in a previous congregation I served.

The worship committee and I had been discussing changes to the language of the Lord’s Prayer for Sunday worship. We decided to try an updated, more inclusive version. That first Sunday, I spent extensive time following worship fielding upset responses. Then my phone rang all week long with complaints from young and old members alike. Needless to say, it was a short-lived experiment.

Ironically, what we read in Luke and in the different version in Matthew vary from the words we now consider the traditional Lord’s Prayer. These sacred phrases have evolved throughout the years of the Christian tradition in differing ways in the branches of our shared faith (e.g., some use “trespasses” or “sins” rather than “debts”). Early on, there were different sources, as evidenced by the footnotes in my study Bible, that say, “Other ancient authorities add . . .”

Yet despite the evolutions of the Lord’s Prayer, we say it each Sunday and in times of personal devotion with a powerful connection to the Lord of life. The first disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Much of what we now say is tied directly to his response. May we ponder the profound meanings of these words whenever we join all the saints in this primal prayer.

God of wisdom, I am grateful for the thoughtful faith of my forebearers. Thank you especially for the revealing words of Jesus the great teacher. Open me to your saving love every time I begin to pray, “Our Father, who art in heaven . . .” Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Written by Jeffrey Doane, Parish Associate for Older Adults

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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