Thought for the week 24th July 2022

I wonder why the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray?

They have been journeying with his for some time and watched him heal but have not ask them to
teach them how to do that.

They have seen him raise the dead, feed 5,000 people with a small amount of food, walk on water
– but have not asked him to teach them to do any of those! They have watched him teach and tell parables but they have not asked him to teach them to do that – so why do they want to learn how to pray?

We can only imagine what it would have been like to walk and talk with Jesus physically as he
made his way across Galilee. If we could have been there we would have seen him touch the sick
– we would have been amazed as he walked across the waves of the stormy sea – we surely
would have been inspired as we heard him teach and then been mesmerised as he explained the
meanings of his teachings to our smaller group.

Imagine what it would have been like to ask Jesus whatever question came to mind?

When the disciples saw Jesus perform miracles and teach, they didn’t clamour, “Lord teach us to
teach like you!” or, “Lord, teach us to do that miracle!” Instead, what captured their attention was
hearing Jesus pray. “He was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples
said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples.”

The thing they wanted most from Jesus was to know how to talk to God in prayer – that tells me
that something amazing must have happened to Jesus when he prayed – something that touched
the disciples hearts – that made them want to be able to pray like him. I wondered how they
thought he would do it?

If we put this in a bit of context we might remember that last week we had the story of Mary and
Martha with Martha being cross that her sister Mary was just sitting at the feet of Jesus whilst she
was rushing around getting the dinner ready. Whilst many of us would have some sympathy with
Martha the conclusion was that Jesus wanted a balance – and closeness to God was very
important. Maybe the disciples were remembering something of this when they asked their

So – what does Jesus do? He gives them a formula to follow.

Start with praise – “Our Father in heaven – holy is your name” – honour God – give God the glory
that is deserved but in the intimate way of a child. I will never forget going through a checkpoint in
the city of Jerusalem and hearing a very small child call to the man beside him “abba” – daddy –
so loving. I know that not everyone has the privilege of a loving father – Jesus modelled the bestthat a relationship could be – I think we could almost start this prayer with the words “My Love”

Move next to a purpose – “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” and
that’s not a passive statement – not a wish or a dream – it’s a reminder that each and every day, in
all that we do, we have a responsibility to play a part in the building of God’s Kingdom.

Jesus then suggests we address our physical needs “give us today our daily bread” – a hope and
faith that God will supply all our needs (not our wants) and, if we are part of the kingdom plan, we
need to be mindful of the needs of others – there is plenty of food in the world – we just often have
far too much whilst others have nothing. If we are truly wanting to be part of the plan for God’s
kingdom to come then we need to ensure that all are fed and have their basic needs met.

Next – to our spiritual needs – which start with confession and forgiveness “Forgive us our sins as
we forgive those who sin against us” to trespasses as the older version said. Sometimes I think
using the word trespass hides what we are saying but it’s the forgiveness of others that’s the real
sting in the tail! If we are asking to forgive as we ourselves forgive others – and by that I mean
EVERY other person who has ‘sinned’ against us – I suspect many of us won’t really get very far!
With bitterness in our hearts we will not come close to God. So we add the rider – “Lead us not
into temptation but deliver us from evil” – a recognition that without God’s help we really won’t get
very far. God provides for our needs and knows we don’t always make wise choices! The good
news is that God loves us and really desires to help us.

We end where we began – “for the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever”.
Encircling ourselves in God’s love – a part of the eternal kingdom – world without end.”

“Amen” – which literally means – let it be so.

I’m not sure that Jesus ever intended for us to learn this prayer and recite the words each time we
pray – I suspect he wanted us to make it our own – from our own heart. I wonder when you last
prayed the Lord’s Prayer thinking of the words and what they meant as you said them. The
problem with having something we become really familiar with is that we stop listening to, and
thinking about, what we are saying – it becomes a ritual and doesn’t always come from the heart.

Maybe you’d like to say the words slowly and think about them for yourself – or maybe you’d like
to try writing a prayer that follows Jesus’s pattern – if you do I’d love it if you shared them with me!

Our School Chaplain, Peter Dainty, included his version in a book of poems he wrote so, to give
you an idea maybe …

Eternal God, our truest friend
may joyful honour never end
in honour of your name.
Your reign begin within our hearts
and reach to earth’s remotest parts
with ever-spreading fame.
Your will be done, your dream come true,
when all creation is made new
in love’s refining flame.

Give us, meanwhile, our daily bread,
enough for body, mind and head,
enough to see us through.
As we forgive another’s debt
and even manage to forget,
so pardon our debts too.
Protect us from temptation’s lies,
so that, unfolded by sin’s disguise,
we’ll walk in peace with you.

Yours is the kingdom, yours the might,
yours is the splendour of the light.
Yours is the everlasting right.
Yes! Lord, and yes! again.


Ruth Parry 24 July 2022