I’ve discovered that it does not take too many words to get a response in people. “The Packers are in first place”. “The Vikings are bringing back Christian Ponder”. Sometimes the words can have a life changing effect on us. “It’s a boy!” “It is cancer.” Sometimes it takes a lot of words, it takes the reading of a article, or of a book to change our perspective on an issue or make a change in our life.
Today I want to recommend seventy-one words. Words that on most days, do not rock your world, or even illicit much of a response. The words are well known, in fact, I could hazard a guess and say you know them already. Today I want you to read the seventy-one words slowly, one at a time and let them sink in. Are you ready?
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
This collection of seventy-one words should be enough to rock your world. They should be enough to cause a reaction, and empower a change. These words are so full of power, meaning, and life it is a shame that we speed through them most of the time without even fully engaging our brain.
Many years ago a resident of the Bethesda Group Home in Milwaukee helped me to forever be more deliberate in my prayer. At the end of each Bible class we would, as a group, close our prayer time with the Lord’s Prayer. On this particular night I was not paying a lot of attention to my own words. I don’t remember the specific order to my words, but I will never forget that I got the “power”, “kingdom”, and “glory” mixed up.
As soon as the mistake was clear of my lips Mary began to cry out and run around the table saying “oh, no you messed up the LORD’S PRAYER, you are in trouble, this is HIS prayer.” She was gravely concerned for my well being, I’m fairly certain that in her mind my very salvation at that moment was in question. I was able to calm Mary down and we as a group prayed the prayer again – Correctly! That was more than 27 years ago. I still remember it, and I still like to have those seventy-one words in front of me as I speak them. What began as a practice to never jeopardize my salvation again ended with a desire to take the words seriously. Following the text helps me to better ponder what I am saying.
So all you worship leaders out there, let’s slow it down a bit, if not for me, for the little children of the congregation who are trying to pray along but haven’t mastered speed praying!
This weekend I get to help a group of Junior High School students do just that, slow down and enjoy the stroll through this amazing prayer.