Why do we pray the Lord’s Prayer in the worship every week? Here are four reasons why:
1. Jesus taught us this prayer.
When Jesus’ disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11.1), he gave them this prayer as a model (cf. Matt 6.5-15). Jesus knows that because of our frailty and sinfulness, we can find prayer to be difficult. When we pray this prayer in faith, we can be comforted to know that we are praying the very prayer that the Son of God – our Prophet, Priest and King – taught us to pray. As John Calvin noted, “we know we are requesting nothing absurd, nothing strange or unseemly – in short, nothing unacceptable to him – since we are asking in his own words.”
2. The Lord’s Prayer provides us with an outline for our prayers.
Our prayers can easily become scattered and disorganized in thought. Sometimes we do not even know what to pray. Praying the Lord’s Prayer in worship each week helps us. It structures and shapes our personal communication with our heavenly Father. Each petition of the Lord’s Prayer is like a box that can be unpacked in adoration, thanksgiving, confession, petition and intercession.
3. The Lord’s Prayer helps children to participate in public worship.
Like confessing our faith in the creed, praying the Lord’s Prayer together during the service allows our children an opportunity to be involved in worship. From their earliest years, they become familiar with the practice of uniting with God’s people in one voice on the Lord’s Day. The petitions of the Lord’s Prayer teach them about God and his kingdom, and about our dependence on him. Parents can use the Heidelberg Catechism (QQ. 116-129) to explain each line of the prayer. Don’t underestimate the cumulative effect this can have on our children. They grow up learning how to pray, and develop hearts that worships with understanding.
4. The Lord’s Prayer gives us continuity with the historic Christian church.
The Lord’s Prayer is found in the liturgies of the historic Christian church. Early church fathers such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Cyprian wrote expositions and treatises on the Pater Noster (Lord’s Prayer). It was also used regularly throughout the Middle Ages and continued during the Reformation. The liturgies drafted by Protestant Reformers Martin Bucer (1539), John Calvin (1542), Thomas Cramner (1552), and John Knox (1556) included the Lord’s Prayer as an ordinary part of weekly worship. At no time was this practice deleted from the service. In reforming worship, the Reformers sought to remove superstition and idolatry, but hold fast to all things biblical and helpful. This included the Lord’s Prayer. This is why the Westminster Assembly’s Directory for the Public Worship of God commended the Lord’s Prayer as a liturgical practice: “And because the prayer which Christ taught his disciples is not only a pattern of prayer, but itself a most comprehensive prayer, we recommend it also to be used in the prayers of the church.”
May we, as disciples of our Lord, make diligent use of the model prayer he gave us. May we pray it in faith, and may it shape our communication with our heavenly Father.
~ Pastor Brown