Old Prayer, New Words


Most of us, religious or not, churched or unchurched, have some familiarity with the Lord’s Prayer.  Whether we know it from memory or recognize only a phrase or two, the Lord’s Prayer is to the world of prayers what Amazing Grace is to the world of hymnody.

Though Jesus taught this prayer to his disciples, the prayer is not about Jesus, nor do we end it saying, “in Jesus’ name.”  Almost any adherent of any religion could say this prayer.  I’ve said the Lord’s Prayer in public worship so many times in my life that I pretty much sleep walk through it every time I’m called upon to lead a congregation.  The words roll off my tongue even when I’m thinking about what sounds good for dinner.

There are things about this prayer I’d like to change.  Lots of things.  I have no use for calling God “Father,” and adding “Mother” does nothing for me either.  “Art in heaven”?  Art?  Really?  And heaven?  Why should I want God in heaven – up there or out there or beyond here?  I’d rather pray to the God who resides in the Gaza Strip or stands with the persecuted people of Syria.

Lately, I’ve been seeking out other versions and revisions of the Lord’s Prayer with new words and fresh images.  My collection is growing.  I hope to include what I’ve found in future blogs accompanied by images that speak to those sentiments and to the needs of our world.

Here’s one I found from the web site of Rainbow Cathedral Metropolitan Community Church/UCC.

Most compassionate Life-giver,

May we honor and praise you: 

May we work with you to establish

Your new order of justice, peace and love.

Give us what we need for growth,

And help us, through forgiving others, to accept forgiveness.

Strengthen us in the time of testing,

That we may resist all evil.

For all the tenderness,

Strength and love are yours,

Now and forever.  Amen.

See what I mean?  Every line is cause to pause and to linger longer.  I’d be appreciative and grateful if you would pass along to me any “retooled” Lord’s Prayers that you come across.  In the meantime, pray without ceasing and, if necessary, use words.

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  1. Jennifer Zinser January 12, 2013 at 8:13 am #

    I love this prayer. The only thing I feel odd about is the life giver salutation and no mention of God.

    When I include “Most compassionate God,” it feels more comfortable.

    Thanks for your inspiration!!!

  2. Dave Kidd January 12, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    Great! Now please help me with the Sacrament of Holy Communion. dek

  3. Christine Armbrecht January 12, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

    Thank you for finding a more relevant version of a daily meditation. Time to revamp. Peace and love be yours, Chris

  4. Andy DeBraber January 14, 2013 at 6:56 am #

    Dan, In my nine years at Douglas UCC, we managed to tackle the first two phrases: “Our Mother/Father, always and everywhere.” The latter part fits the pacing nicely of “who art in heaven” so people could say either. I’ve found many a helpful version of the prayer in the liturgies of Rex Hunt at http://rexaehuntprogressive.com/. Thank you!

  5. Lisa Mitchell January 14, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    What a beautiful translation of the Lord’s Prayer! Thank you for sharing it. When I read your blog about how it rolls off the tongue without much thinking or contemplation like Amazing Grace I had to reply. I just hear an African American woman speak about the history of Amazing Grace – specifically its author. I was horrified to learn that he sexually violated children of color. There is so much history that we don’t know and we sing songs or say prayers without our thinking and understanding. I can not sing this song now knowing this historical information. Many blessings!

  6. Lou January 16, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    At the risk of being a contrarian (which means I’m about to be), I offer a different view. First, a confession: at the age of 55, I am fighting encroaching conservatism. I feel sometines like I need to adjourn to a commune in Utah and pack herbal tea for the summer. In any case, I would challenge all to consider the language Jesus taught us as real and authentic both in the first century and today. Unedited. Unreserved. And unapologetic. I’ve been reading the writings of Galileo recently (don’t ask) and when he advanced his theory of the Sun-centered universe, he was, as we all know, challenged by the Catholic church. He asked for the Scriptural basis for the Church believing that the Sun orbited arounf the sky, and the response was that in Joshua, God made the “Sun stand still.” Galileo’s response was that he agreed that Holy Scripture is inerrant, but that “I fear that those who would interpret it are not.” Fightin’ words. My point is that God used words in Scripture that were intended for the people of the day and their understanding of the world – and for us today and our understanding of the world. For me, when the modern era portrays fatherhood in the person of Peter Griffin, when our knowledge of how LeBron is doing exceeds our knowledge of how our daughters are doing in math, and when I see men abdocating their roles in the church, I’m ok with getting on my knees and saying “Our Father…”