Unpacking the Lord’s Prayer with E Stanley Jones

by Christine Sine

by Christine Sine

This unpacking of the Lord’s Prayer is both challenging and exciting. It is refreshing not just to revisit some of the interpretations that bloggers to Godspace have submitted in the past but also to re-read some of the books on prayer that it has reminded me of.

One of these is E.Stanley Jones book The Way, a Christian classic that is, I think, a must read for every person of Christian Faith.

First I love his definition of prayer

Prayer is co-operation with God. In prayer you align your desires, your will, your life to God. You and God become agreed on life desires, life purposes, life plans, and God you work them out together. That is prayer. Prayer is not trying to get God to do your will. It is the getting of our will in line with God’s will.(Sunday week 29)

Reading further I was particularly struck by his reminder of the corporate nature of the language used in the Lord’s Prayer. This is not a prayer that we can pray alone or live out alone. The language is “our” and us. Jones comments:

There is a qualifying word to Father, the word “Our”. That “our” determines the nature of religion. Suppose it had been “my”? That would have changed the nature of religion. Instead of being social and we-cntred, it would have been individual and I-centred. That would have started us off wrong, the whole prayer would come out wrong. That word “our” means a shifting of the emphasis from me to the Father and to my brothers (and sisters).(Tuesday week 29)

My interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer for today came out of my meditating on these words.

Our Father,
Not mine alone but stretching beyond family, race, class, and religion,
Reaching to everyone everywhere.
Our Father,
The One who takes responsibility for us as family,
The One who cannot do anything but the loving thing,
Hallowed be your name.
May we reverence in thought and word and deed your name, your character,
May we see as holy the very nature of who you are.
Your kingdom come,
Your kingdom of peace, justice, wholeness and abundance.
May it come because we seek it above all else,
And put it in our prayers and in our actions where Jesus did,
first in consideration and allegiance.
Your will be done,
Your will for my life desires, life purposes, life plans,
Your will for kingdom life to be revealed,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
Not bread for me alone but for everyone, your entire human family
Not bread for the rest of my life but for today,
For we know that when we seek first your kingdom,
all these things – food, clothing, all we need- shall be added,
As and when we need them.
And forgive us our sins,
Forgive us our desires for luxuries that make others do without necessities,
Forgive us our holding onto tomorrow’s bread that should be shared today.
Forgive us as we forgive others, not resenting what they have, who they are,
how you have gifted them,
Lead us not into temptation but away from evil,
Guide us, all of us, until evil is not longer a temptation for us.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory,
You still rule, now, in our world today,
You rule with kingdom power and kingdom glory.

Amen

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