Should Christians memorize the Lord’s Prayer, teach it to their children, and even recite it in public worship? Today, Derek Thomas speaks to the value of this prayer in the Christian life.
NATHAN W. BINGHAM: Joining me this week is Dr. Derek Thomas, calling in from South Carolina. Dr. Thomas, is it helpful for Christians to learn the Lord's Prayer? And do you have any advice to encourage us, perhaps even our children, how to memorize the Lord's Prayer?
DR. DEREK THOMAS: Yes. Hello. Good afternoon. That's a wonderful question. In my tradition here, part of the liturgy on Sunday morning takes us through the Lord's Prayer. There's always a moment when Presbyterians say, "Forgive us our debts." And Episcopalians say, "Forgive us our trespasses." So there is that difference, and you can always tell if a visiting Episcopalian is in the congregation. I think that it's absolutely essential for us to know the Lord's Prayer, and to learn it and to teach it to our children. Interestingly, in my first charge, the Lord's Prayer was not said during the liturgy, partly because in Britain, Presbyterians took the side of the Puritans and a much stricter interpretation of the regulatory principle and liturgy. So unless there was an express command by Jesus that it ought to be said weekly in the liturgy, it wasn't done. And we won't go into that here. But clearly, Jesus is giving us the foundations, and structure, and a model of what prayer looks like, that it begins with worship and it ends with requests and praise and so on.
And clearly, one of the things that my wife and I taught our children, as very little children, when we led them in prayer, just before taking them to bed, we taught them to say the Lord's Prayer. Jesus' prayer. It's a model prayer. And in a time of crisis, we all go through periods when our prayer lives are not what they ought to be. And at that time, reciting the Lord's Prayer and thinking and meditating over each section of the prayer so that we're not saying it's simply by rote"although there's nothing wrong with rote recitation, memorization in and of itself. So yes, I'm absolutely in favor of learning the Lord's Prayer and encouraging our children to do so.
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