Saturday, March 26, 2011

Prayer - what Jesus taught

Whose Father now?

The prayer we call the Our Father was what Jesus told the apostles when they asked him to teach them how to pray. We find this in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6.

We often pray a version close to the first widespread English translation: (King James)
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespass, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

1) Circle the words or ways of saying something that might be confusing to people 400 years later.

A more modern translation: (God’s Word)
Our Father in heaven,
let your name be kept holy.
Let your kingdom come.
Let your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.
Give us our daily bread today.
Forgive us as we forgive others.
Don’t allow us to be tempted.
Instead, rescue us from the evil one.

Our Father in Chinese
2) Who is the biggest most important person you can think of? Would you run up to them and call them by a nickname?

3) Jews are not allowed to even speak the name of God, that we say as Yahweh. How would they have reacted to being told to call him “Our Father?” Some writers think that the word Jesus used is more like Daddy.

4) After calling God a nickname, we then say, ‘let your name be kept holy.’ What does that mean? Why would we tell God that?

5) Many people have argued for ages about ‘let your kingdom come.’ What does it mean to you? What else might it mean?

6) When Jesus was born, what do you think ‘our daily bread’ meant? How would you put it today?

7) I usually remember to pray “forgive me,” but I don’t usually tack on “as I forgive other people.” And in case we didn’t catch that difference, right afterward Jesus says: “If you forgive the failures of others, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failures.” Why did Jesus put that in his prayer instructions?

8) What does it mean to be tempted? Why should we pray not to be tempted?

9) Notice how this translation changes “but deliver us from evil” which to us sounds like a negative to “instead” which is what it used to mean. Instead of what?

10) Last week we talked about praying ACTS:
Do you see any of those in the Our Father?

11) One of the problems with knowing a prayer by memory is that it’s easy to pray it too fast and without thinking. Let’s try praying the Our Father super slowly.

12) “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him,” Jesus said. If that’s true, what are we praying for?

13) Jesus wasn’t telling us to pray with these exact words, but remembering these ideas. The most important Jews at the time tended to pray making a big fuss, and acting all holy. With lots of very precise gestures and bows and rituals. Jesus was freeing his disciples from all of that. Telling them it’s simple, and that prayer is talking to a loving parent who wants to do good things for you. Let’s write our own Our Father.

14) So what’s one thing you take away from this week’s study?

Postscript:  Here's the Our Father our group wrote.
Dear Daddy who art in heaven.
May your name be kept holy.
May your powers, choices and desires thrive forever on earth like heaven.
We ask you for our needs each day.
Forgive us our sins the same way we forgive others.
Save us from sin and the chances to sin.
Save us from the Enemy, and grant us peace.

Next week: persistence

Photo credit: wikimedia commons, andycohn @ Flickr

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