Lord’s Prayer For Kids

When I was a Sunday School teacher for K-3 I wrote this version of the Lord’s Prayer for them.

Our Father
Who is in Heaven
Your name is Special.
Let Your rule
and Your will
be done here with us now,
just as it is in Heaven.
Give us enough food for today.
Forgive us when we do wrong,
and help us forgive others when they are wrong.
Help us not to want wrong things,
and protect us from all harm.
For You are a good God,
and we love You.

Eternal Prayer

It occurred to me this morning as I was praying that God still hears (is continuously hearing) all the prayer I have ever offered to Him.  He is not bounded by time.  Which means that when we praise Him we add to the eternal chorus of all saints living and dead that is eternally on-going and has an infinite capacity for growth such that eternity will never be filled by it.

It also means He now and forever hears His Son’s prayers to Him, including the High Priestly Prayer of John 17, and His prayer on the cross “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.”  He continuously hears the prayers of Paul for the church like the one in Philippians: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.” (1:9)

And the one in Colossians 1:9-14:

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

It’s encouraging to know that God is eternally hearing the prayers of Jesus and Paul.  Let us now add to the chorus: Praise the Lord!”

Poverty of Our Prayer

Yesterday I received the following in an email:

I just wanted to tell everyone that I am so grateful to have each of you in my life. I pray you all have a blessed day. It was difficult for me to decide who I thought would DO this because many people claim to pray, but not everyone does. I hope I chose the right twelve. Please send this back to me (You’ll see why). May everyone who receives this message be blessed. There are 12 months/ 12 disciples/ 12 tribes of Israel / Jesus’ birth celebrated in the 12th month. There is nothing attached. Just send this to twelve others. Prayer is one of the best free gifts we receive. There is no cost, just a lot of reward. Make sure you pray, and pray believing God will answer:

“May today be all you need it to be. May the peace of God and the freshness of the Holy Spirit rest in your thoughts, rule in your dreams tonight, and conquer all your fears. May God manifest himself today in ways you have never experienced. May your joys be fulfilled, your dreams be closer, and your prayers be answered. I pray that faith enters a new height for you; I pray that your territory is enlarged. I pray for peace, healing, health, happiness, prosperity, joy, true and undying love for God.”

Now send this to 12 people within 5 minutes and remember to send this back…. I count as 2, you’ll see why. Suggestion: copy and paste rather than forward.

Generally I ignore such demands for forwards, but this time it came from someone I love, and the request for prayer is not one to be dismissed lightly.  I don’t mean to be a bore, and I don’t want to sound critical of the people who enjoy such things, but in order for me to participate I had to change the prayer.

I do pray, and was a bit put off by the original message, though the person who forwarded it on to me knows I pray.  As the character of C. S. Lewis said in the movie “Shadowlands” , I “pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God, it changes me.”

Like Lewis, I’m not sure God wants our territory enlarged, contra Jabez and the American gospel.  I think He wants His territory enlarged.  Suffering sucks, but it’s also “God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”  God, according to Lewis (at least in the movie), “wants us to get out of the nursery and to grow up.”

Our prayer is deeply impoverished by our culture.  I did email this to ten people, but for the prayer to be one I can say “amen” to, I had to change it.  We know that we ask according to God’s will when we pray His words back to Him from Scripture.  Scriptural prayer is powerful, not impoverished.  Here’s my version:

May today you be all God needs you to be. May the peace of God and the freshness of the Holy Spirit rest in your thoughts, dwell in your hearts, and conquer all your fears. May God manifest Himself today in ways you have never experienced.  May you experience the joy of knowing Christ, and may you be obedient to His will and determined to honor Him in all you do even to the point of death.  I pray that faith enters a new height for you, so that you may toil tirelessly in God’s vineyard and His territory may be enlarged as a result.  I pray that you will “be transformed through the renewing of your mind.”

I pray that you “make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love,” trusting that “His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”  I pray that the “word of Christ dwell in you richly,” and that you will “teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.”

I pray you grow in grace, that you pursue holiness, that you put on the armor of God, that you manifest the fruit of the Spirit, and that you “lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely and…run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”  I pray that you will have the faith to hope in His love, so that you may proclaim with Job that “Though He slay me yet will I trust in Him.”

Finally, I pray that you will seek His kingdom above all else, and that you will be content in all circumstances, so that through “weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ” you will “count all things rubbish for the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus,” and in so doing  you “will be his witness to all the world.”

Eat This Book

Eugene Peterson is convinced that the “way” we read the Bible is as important as “that” we read the Bible. In Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading, he argues that “Christians are to absorb, imbibe, feed on and digest Scripture.” A translator of Scripture himself, Peterson recommends a type of Bible-based prayer called lectio divina, in which the person praying meditates on a short passage of Scripture and listens for God to speak through the text, arguing throughout that the lectio divina is not a systematic way of reading, but a “developed habit of living the text in Jesus’ name.”

Because the lectio has been around for so long, there are many, like Peterson, who can explain it better than I. The next three paragraphs come from “Accepting the Embrace of God: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina.

The art of lectio divina begins with cultivating the ability to listen deeply, to hear ‘with the ear of our hearts’ as St. Benedict called it. When we read the Scriptures we should try to imitate the prophet Elijah. We should allow ourselves to become women and men who are able to listen for the still, small voice of God (I Kings 19:12); the ‘faint murmuring sound’ which is God’s word for us, God’s voice touching our hearts. This gentle listening is an ‘attunement’ to the presence of God in that special part of God’s creation which is the Scriptures.

The cry of the prophets to ancient Israel was the joy-filled command to ‘Listen!’ ‘Sh’ma Israel: Hear, O Israel!’ In lectio divina we, too, heed that command and turn to the Scriptures, knowing that we must ‘hear’ – listen – to the voice of God, which often speaks very softly. In order to hear someone speaking softly we must learn to be silent. We must learn to love silence. If we are constantly speaking or if we are surrounded with noise, we cannot hear gentle sounds. The practice of lectio divina, therefore, requires that we first quiet down in order to hear God’s word to us. This is the first step of lectio divina, appropriately called lectio – reading.

The reading or listening which is the first step in lectio divina is very different from the speed reading which modern Christians apply to newspapers, books and even to the Bible. Lectio is reverential listening; listening both in a spirit of silence and of awe. We are listening for the still, small voice of God that will speak to us personally – not loudly, but intimately. In lectio we read slowly, attentively, gently listening to hear a word or phrase that is God’s word for us this day.

My first exposure to the lectio came from a book titled Too Deep For Words: Rediscovering Lectio Divina. Through written in 1988, this book is still in print and is available for $9.00 from Amazon. The most valuable part of this book is Part 2: “Fifty Scripture Themes For Prayer,” with a total of 500 verses on which to practice lectio divina.

These two books and the essay (linked above) are excellent companions to the new ELCA “Book of Faith” initiative. This program, developed because of a proposal by the NC Synod, is adding resources weekly. There are study guides, videos, documents, assessment tools and more.

The Book of Faith initiative “invites this whole church to become fluent in the first language of faith – the language of Scripture; and to be renewed for lives of witness and service as the Holy Spirit engages us.” I can think of no better way to do this than by: “Opening the Book of Faith”, and “Dwelling in the Word” with the lectio divina.

Grace to Honor Gifts: A Prayer


I pray today that you give me the grace to honor the many gifts you have blessed me with, those of the physical realm like food, health, shelter and work, but most especially for the spiritual gifts you have granted me.  I humbly pray that I will respond to them with gratitude, contentment, joy and the obedience of faith.  Please enable me to surrender to your love, and give me the power to make godly choices.  In Jesus name I pray.  Amen

Keep Me From Clinging, Lord


Do not let me be so committed to an idea because it is “mine” that I cling to it when you would have me let it go because it is not yours.  If there is any idea that I cling to that is not in keeping with your heart and mind, no matter how clever it is, purge me of it and replace it with your truth.  In Christ name.  Amen