When I first began church-hopping in search of something more, I was shocked to find so many that adhered to none of the standards I grew up with:
—Services that didn’t include The Lord’s Prayer.
—Churches where communion was offered only occasionally.
—Auditoriums filled with chatty people compared to the somber mood and pews containing kneelers, missals and hymnals, but few people.
—No statues or stained glass or choir robes.
—Music that was more like a rock concert than church, with words that didn’t rhyme and that were flashed on big screens behind the often scruffy-looking band.
—Pastors who taught from the Bible in a way that connects the dots between Scripture and our lives, leaving attenders wanting more.
—People talking about what they learned as they left church, and then coming back again and again—not based on any rule that said they must, but out of a desire to grow deeper into a relationship with the Lord.
Relationship over rituals. Who knew?!
As is my way, my initial critique of these new-fangled churches came faster than my appreciation for the genuine worship and spiritual growth that was going on.
My first complaint was over the lack of praying The Lord’s Prayer—one of the first prayers I’d learned as a child—the prayer that led each decade of the rosary and was included in every weekly service, wedding, or funeral I’d ever attended.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name….
When I asked about this omission, a very wise person directed me to the source itself, rather than giving me the answer. I was forced to delve into the Bible, specifically Luke 11:1-4.
Luke 11:1-2: “Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” Jesus said, “This is how you should pray….”
Jesus said, “This is how you should pray.”
The remainder of this passage (v. 2-4) is Jesus providing an example of how to pray—first honoring His Father, then surrendering to the Father’s will, then making our requests and asking for God’s forgiveness and protection.
The Lord’s Prayer wasn’t Jesus telling us what to pray.
It was Jesus teaching us how to pray.
That was a surprise to me—one that changed the way I interacted with the Lord; one that was a first step for me in moving toward authentic prayer. I never would have known had I not read the bible for myself.
Father, thank you for that person long ago who refused to answer my question about The Lord’s Prayer, who instead directed me to Luke 11:1-4 so that I could read Jesus’ words for myself.
Thank You for Jesus’ example of how to pray…from the heart, submitting to and honoring You.
Please forgive me for those times that I rush through praying for others, rather than truly letting their needs sink in so that my requests on their behalf are genuine. I think that’s what I was meant to see in Your Word today—that my prayer life could use a bit of a RESET.
And please bless all of those who are moving to deepen their own relationship with You through more authentic prayer. Amen.