How Christ Has Given Us the Words to Say When We Don’t Know What to Say

Good Morning,

Nearly all Reformed and Presbyterian churches say the Lord’s Prayer every week as a part of their order of service. I’d even venture to guess that those who do recite it, do so in unison as a congregation with the minister or an elder leading that devotional exercise. The catechism is asking us today some questions, and providing some answers, as to why we do that, why it is a good thing, and how we can ensure to do that better and with more feeling as the time rolls on.

I’ve said before that prayer is the lifeblood of a church. A church that does not pray does not really believe in God. That sounds harsh, but to be fair how can you say that your faith has made you well if you don’t talk to the one who healed you? People, and especially groups of people, who don’t pray together are like the nine lepers who did not return to say thank you to Jesus. Prayer expresses our heartfelt desire to be the Lord’s sons and daughters by the adoption of grace. Our Heavenly Father, as the preface of the Lord’s Prayer makes obvious, is the source of all joy, love, and peace which we experience in the Christian life. He has shown us that not only in giving us eternal life despite our wickedness, but has, as Q.187 notes, granted us a foolproof way to witness our thanksgiving through prayer. He provides not only the means, but the manner as well. Here is one way that Jehovah shows His love for us, and His fatherhood in protecting and supplying food for faith.

Here are the Q/A’s for today:

Q. 187. How is the Lord’s prayer to be used?

A. The Lord’s prayer is not only for direction, as a pattern, according to which we are to make other prayers; but may also be used as a prayer, so that it be done with understanding, faith, reverence, and other graces necessary to the right performance of the duty of prayer.

Q. 188. Of how many parts doth the Lord’s prayer consist?

A. The Lord’s prayer consists of three parts; a preface, petitions, and a conclusion.

Going back to the basics is always helpful in life, as much as it is in the grace of Christ. Keeping the main thing the main thing, and building upon that foundation is an important in seeing us being able to deal with the everchanging difficulties of living in a world which seems to create a new and ever growing list of ways to deny God and His word. In the Marines, and as Mackenzie can tell you with karate, we spent a lot of time doing the same motions over and over again. Muscle memory was the mantra of nearly every training exercise. Even those who are black belts find it worthwhile to do the most white belt katas despite knowing the most rigorous moves and expert-level defenses. For the Christian the Lord’s Prayer finds a similar role. Whenever we get confused about how we can go about asking God for help the Lord’s Prayer is the perfect place to rest in familiar words which express in beautiful prose the elements of a believer’s faith.

Each movement in the Lord’s Prayer builds upon the one before it. Our Father is followed by Who Art in Heaven as a testimony both to God’s power and His glory. These titles and terms are why we can pray, and how we can know our prayers are heard and answered. If God was merely a god among many gods, or was in some sense less than god, then by what hope could we then understand that our sins were forgiven or that our daily bread was being provided? A Lord who can’t do or be someone worthy of praise is also not worthy of our time and energy in seeking support in a day of trial. This is one of the reasons why when we do say the Lord’s Prayer on Sunday morning in worship that we cannot and should not ever just repeat words. We need to witness to our own heart and ensure we mean what we say when we join together with our brothers and sisters in Christ in the repetition.

Jesus’ warning to the Pharisees in Matthew 5 and 6 when He introduces this prayer to them is that God is not impressed by our going through the motions. That doesn’t mean that if we don’t feel it in the moment of saying the Lord’s Prayer that in some way we are in sin. God does not expect you to fake it until you make it. The glory of prayer is found in the fact that the Holy One knows your heart. Too much of contemporary Christianity demands that you always be happy clappy and give that good Christian smile at all times. There is little place for weeping and in any sense lamenting the difficulties of life if every song is boisterous and the environment is flashing with lights, camera, action. We need silence and also we need to be open with our struggling on the Lord’s Day morning. It’s okay to slow talk the Lord’s Prayer. We do not need to rush through it every time we say it in the service. Contemplating each petition in itself is vital to remind our souls through the word of God that God means what He says, and we are who He says we are.

When our catechism in Q.188 speaks about the three parts of the Lord’s Prayer it’s important to remember the A.C.T.S. paradigm. We Adore, Confess, Thank, and Seek our God in each petition. As we walk through the individual petitions themselves (we only have eight more questions in the whole of the Larger Catechism left) we will be able to unpack how that works.

In closing, the beauty of the Lord’s Prayer is that it is always there for us when we don’t know what else to say. It’s okay for us to reach a point in the day where we are overwhelmed by all the things we need to do, all the things weighing on our mind, and all the things expected of us by others around us. It’s too much, because it is too much, yet we are told in the Lord’s Prayer that Christ’s grace is sufficient for us. He not only is our daily bread, He is our glory forever and ever.


Here’s a Last Word:

Blessings in Christ,

Rev. Benjamin Glaser

Pastor, Bethany ARP Church

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