Lesson Forty One
LEARNING HOW TO PRAY
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I belong to a large church. It isn’t close to a megachurch by any stretch of the imagination, but if measured against most Adventist churches, it would be considered large. A recent initiative of our pastoral team is to form “Connect Groups.”
These are what you might imagine. They are small groups that help separate the congregation into more intimate groups. They are optional. One can certainly attend our church with the goal of becoming “lost” amidst the crowd and be successful without a lot of effort. But there is a gentle (sometimes bordering on insistent) urge on the part of the pastors for people to join one of these groups where they will find people who will get to know them, pray with and for them, as well as offer support. I concur. It’s good to be part of meaningful fellowship.
It’s good to be part of meaningful fellowship.
Interestingly, our Scripture passage for this week offers the opposite counsel. The Lord’s Prayer, called this because it was given by Jesus, is really what one commentator suggested, “The Disciples’ Prayer.” It’s meant to be corporate. When Jesus instructed the disciples to pray in this way, the “you” is plural. It isn’t a prayer for one individual or even a few. It’s for the entire church to pray.
There are denominations that regularly include litanies within their worship services. Adventists, in general, don’t do this mostly because of the danger inherent with such an idea. It can become rote and meaningless. This is not said to criticize those churches who do so, but it’s a caution that when one repeats the same thing, after a while it can be done without thinking. But Jesus reminds us with The Lord’s Prayer not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There’s absolutely a time for the church to pray as a community.
There’s absolutely a time for the church to pray as a community.
When one studies the prayer, we can see immediately how this is a prayer for the Church. It first acknowledges God as our Father. Not only mine, but yours as well. We are a family of believers.
It acknowledges that God is in charge, that His will is what we desire, and it allows us to understand all that is happening in an evil world through the lens of heaven.
It acknowledges our daily needs, again, not mine only, but yours and the entire church community. While it speaks of food, this can be stretched to include the overall care of everyone—the nurturing of the community of believers.
It acknowledges our need to forgive and to be forgiven. This is an important reminder of our need of a Savior. It allows us to remember we are sinners and that daily we must rely on God not only to forgive us, but to help us forgive and live with the other sinners around us.
It acknowledges that we live in the midst of a great controversy between good and evil—Christ and Satan. We remember that God wins, and He with the heavenly host keep us from temptation and all evil.
Finally, we are reminded that He’s coming again. Jesus is coming for me, for you, for all believers. Together we are community. Together we belong to Him. When was the last time we prayed this prayer aloud as a fellowship of believers? Let’s begin again and be corporately renewed.
Each part of The Lord’s Prayer is significant. Look carefully at each part. Pray it each day this week and think of this as you do.*
Our Father which art in heaven: A reminder that we are a child of God, and that God is above all
Hallowed be thy name: The name of a person is important. Here we discover that God’s name is holy.
Thy kingdom come: The tense in Greek is futuristic. We look forward to Jesus coming to establish His kingdom.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven: This tense is also future. It anticipates the end of sin and God reigning forever as He does now in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread: The pray turns to our daily needs. This helps us to remember it is God who provides.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors: In this case, debt is representing sin. Forgive us our sins and we should forgive those who sin against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: Asking God to keep us from making poor choices, to keep us from falling
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever. Amen: A doxology of sorts—praise to God who sustains us forever and always
*Thoughts taken from Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, pp. 346-348.
Making it Real
Have you memorized The Lord’s Prayer? Have your children? If not, do so this week. You may select any Bible translation you like, but many have found the King James Version to be easiest. I have included it below for your convenience.
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 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 for ever. Amen.
—Matthew 6:9-13, KJV
Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being a grandmother to two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus, and a granddaughter, born in 2023. She is blessed to have all three living close by, continually bringing joy and delight.