This week I have enjoyed the privilege of meeting with the combined churches of Cranbourne for our annual Prayer Summit. For four nights we gathered at a different church in our area for united prayer and worship for our community and its leaders.
I love it when Christians come together in prayer and I get excited about the possibilities when we pray for community transformation! I was enriched by the unique styles and expressions of each host church. I was blessed by the warm fellowship and generous hospitality. But I remain somewhat perplexed as to why the Church, which has been in existence in one form or another for 2000 years, continues to pray the so-called 'Lord's Prayer'!? You may have heard it recited by many congregations - "Our Father, who art in heaven..." It is staggering to me why a simple model of prayer recorded in Matthew 6:9-13 that Jesus used to instruct His disciples how to pray remains the standard as what to pray in so many church gatherings.
When our children were able to structure simple sentences, my wife and I taught them a very basic model of prayer to teach them how to pray. It went something like this: "Dear Lord, thank you for today. God bless Mum, Dad, Rebekah and Adam." Our children are now 14 years old and it would be very concerning to us if they continued to pray the same form of prayer today! As they have grown up, their experience of God and perception of the world has grown also. This development is now reflected in how they communicate with God through prayer. In Paul's letter to the Corinthians he wrote, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me" (1 Corinthians 13:11). At the risk of overstating my point, I think it is time for churches to put childish ways behind them and progress beyond reciting a model of prayer in their services and encourage their congregations to engage in mature prayer that better reflects the depth of their relationship with God and concern for the fulfillment of His kingdom on earth.
As a church leader I am occasionally asked by some congregation members why we don't say the 'Lord's Prayer' anymore. This is the reason why!
"Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity" (Hebrews 6:1)