Did you know that the Lord’s Prayer is dangerous? This week the Church of England’s cinema add featuring the Lord’s prayer was banned. I was curious to see this add and I absolutely loved it. How about you?
Even the web site for prayer they’re advertising for is worth of visiting. But let’s discover the beauty of the Lord’s Prayer. Why is it so powerful, even dangerous? Bishop Steven Croft gives us seven reasons in his blog post:
First, this prayer gives to those who pray it an identity and a place in the world and a countercultural community. “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name”. It opposes the myth that we are random specks of matter floating through space and time. It opposes the myth that our lives do not matter. It opposes the myth of fragmented humanity.
We are created and loved and called into friendship with God who is our father and into community with our fellow human beings who are therefore our sisters and brothers. Only someone who has found this new identity can stand against the advertising culture which night and day seduces us to define who we are by what we spend.
Second this prayer gives us the courage to live in an imperfect world. “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.
The world is not as it was meant to be. It is distorted from its true purpose. But God is at work to redeem and transform this world, to establish his kingdom. The Lord’s Prayer invites us not to retreat from the world in fear and pain, to anaesthetise or indulge ourselves. The Lord’s Prayer invites us to join the struggle to see justice and peace prevail.
Third, and most powerfully, the Lord’s Prayer teaches us to live with just enough. This is the most dangerous reason why it cannot be shown with the adverts at the cinema. It teaches us not to want more. It teaches contentment, the most subversive virtue of them all.
“Give us this day our daily bread”. This is not a prayer for more. This is a prayer only for what we need. Every other advert in the cinema is there to encourage us to spend money in pursuit of happiness. This one restrains our greed.
Fourth, the Lord’s Prayer teaches me to live with my imperfections and the imperfections of others. There is a way to deal with the rubbish in our lives. “Forgive us our sins”.
Consumer culture holds before us the image of perfection. We cannot be happy until we look like this person, live like that one. Each image is a lie.
The Lord’s Prayer acknowledges human imperfection and sin, daily. The Lord’s Prayer offers a pathway to forgiveness, daily. The way of forgiveness cannot be bought. It is a gift. Grace. Grace subverts the whole culture of advertising.
Fifth the Lord’s Prayer offers a way of reconciliation. “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”. We are not meant to feud or live in hostility or rivalry. We are meant to forgive and be forgiven, to be reconciled to each other. That reconciliation happens without expensive presents, without going into debt, without credit. People are not made happy by more things, another consumer lie. The greatest happiness comes from relationships. The key to great relationships is reconciliation and forgiveness.
Sixth, the Lord’s Prayer builds resilience in the human spirit. When you say this prayer each day you are prepared for the bad days. “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”
When we say this prayer we remind ourselves that we are not living in a Disney fairy tale, a saccharine creation of film makers where every story has a happy ending.
We are living in a real world of cancer and violence and difficulty, where we are tested, where bad things happen for no clear reason. We live in that world confident in God’s love and goodness and help even in the midst of the most challenging moments of our lives. Faith is for the deep valleys as much as the green pastures. We may not have the answers but we know that God dwells with us and in us.
And seventh the Lord’s Prayer tells us how the story ends, how this life is to be lived and lived well. “For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen”.
The prayer returns as it begins to the praise and glory of the living God. Our hearts return to their origin and source, the one who created us. Life is to be lived to God’s praise and glory, not to satisfy our own small desires. We are beings with a higher calling and a greater purpose.
There are only 63 words in the Lord’s Prayer. It takes less than a minute to say them.
Yet these words shape our identity, give purpose to our lives, check our greed, remind us of our imperfections, offer a way of reconciliation, build resilience in our spirits and call us to live to the glory of our creator.
No wonder they have been banned in the boardrooms of consumer culture.
Jesus taught the Lord’s Prayer and all Christians ever since have embraced the prayer as part of their faith life. How wonderful it is to be one of billions of people who have said it, are saying it today and will be saying it until the end of the world.
The Lord’s Prayer is dangerous, it might change your life. The Lord’s Prayer reminds us of all that is important in life. And what’s not. How blessed we are to have a loving Father in heaven who guides us, loves us, cares for us, protects us, who forgives and enables us to forgive. Nothing better.
Let us pray dangerously:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Q4U: What did you think of the add? Is the Lord’s Prayer dangerous? What does the Lord’s Prayer mean to you?
Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you dare to keep the Lord’s Prayer as part of your way of life!Pin It