O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
your Son battled with the powers of darkness,
and grew closer to you in the desert:
help us to use these days
to grow in wisdom and prayer
that we may witness to your saving love
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Psalm 34.4-6, 21-22
I sought the Lord and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Look upon him and be radiant
and your faces shall not be ashamed.
This poor soul cried, and the Lord heard me
and saved me from all my troubles.
But evil shall slay the wicked
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord ransoms the life of his servants
and will condemn none who seek refuge in him.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then in this way:
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
‘For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.’
Yesterday we were challenged to be open-hearted and open-handed in our generosity towards others. Today we are called to be open and honest in our prayer lives.
Over the years I have heard so many empty phrases offered in great solemnity … empty phrases masquerading as prayer. Too often we set aside Jesus’ very clear teaching on the subject of prayer. We wrap up the needs and dreams we want to lay before God in the empty phrases Jesus warns against as he gives us The Lord’s Prayer.
We struggle with the simplicity of The Lord’s Prayer, we behave as though we know better.
In The Lord’s Prayer Jesus gives us a model that encompasses much. It opens and closes with words of worship and adoration for God. As we pray for the coming of God’s kingdom we are expressing that which should be the hope of every Christian. In just six words (Give us today our daily bread) Jesus recognizes our worldly needs and dreams, but he also puts them into perspective. In many more words we are urged to seek, and give, forgiveness … we are encouraged to acknowledge all that we say, do and think that distances us from God, and we are reminded that we are just as fallible as those around us. Jesus also urges ask to ask for protection from the evil which permeates so much of this world.
There is so much in the few words of The Lord’s Prayer … and none of those words can be described as empty phrases.
The Lord’s Prayer gives us something else that is important. This model prayer is complete in its brevity which means that it also gives us the gift of time. Regular use of The Lord’s Prayer allows us to bring everything to God, and it gives us the time to listen to God talking back to us.
Prayer is not a one-way process. By setting aside our empty, meaningless phrases we are creating the time and the space to listen to the God who wants us to hear what he has to say … and then go out and take those words into the lives of others.
Prayers of Intercession
Let us pray for our own needs and for the needs of others, following the pattern which Jesus gave when he taught us to pray to God our Father.
Through our love of the countryside, through our care for animals, through our respect for property and tools: Father, hallowed be your name.
On our farms and in our homes, in our colleges and schools, where machinery is made, and where policy is planned: Father, your kingdom come.
By our seeking your guidance, by our keeping your commandments, by our living true to our consciences: Father, your will be done.
For the millions who live in poverty and hunger, for our own needs, and the requirements of our neighbours, by cooperation, sympathy and generosity: give us today our daily bread.
Because we have broken your commandments, doing what we ought not to do and neglecting what we ought to do: forgive us our sins.
If any have injured us by injustice, double dealing or exploitation: we forgive those who sin against us.
When prosperity lulls us to false security, or hard times prompt us to despair, When success makes us boastful, or failure makes us bitter: lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
In the assurance of faith, in the confidence of hope, in the will to serve, help us to love Christ as Lord, and our neighbour as ourselves. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.
Prayer for the week
Most merciful God and Father,
give us true repentance for our sins.
Open our eyes to recognize the truth about ourselves;
so that acknowledging our faults,
our weakness and our failures,
we may receive your forgiveness
and find in your love the encouragement
to make a new beginning;
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
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,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
How shall I sing that majesty
which angels do admire?
Let dust in dust and silence lie;
sing, sing, ye heavenly choir.
Thousands of thousands stand around
thy throne, O God most high;
ten thousand times ten thousand sound
thy praise; but who am I?
Enlighten with faith’s light my heart,
inflame it with love’s fire;
then shall I sing and bear a part
with that celestial choir.
I shall, I fear, be dark and cold,
with all my fire and light;
yet when thou dost accept their gold,
Lord, treasure up my mite.
John Mason (c.1645–1694)