I learned the Lord’s Prayer when I was a child. We did not recite it during Catholic services, but had to learn it in catechism classes (Catholic Sunday School). The Boy Scout troop that I joined at age 15 recited the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of meetings. The Southern Baptist church I joined at age 17 taught children the words, but did not say the prayer in services. Most meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous end with everyone joining hands and reciting the Lord’s Prayer as I learned when I started counseling alcoholics as a young minister. When I led worship in a Presbyterian Church for 3 years, we said the Lord’s Prayer during Sunday worship every week.

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,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.]

When I began a practice of daily prayer a few years ago and started reviewing prayer books to help me, I found that most resources called for praying the Lord’s Prayer at morning, midday, and evening prayers. I did not understand why they thought the Lord’s Prayer was important enough to repeat every day, let alone three times per day, but decided to try it in honor of the consensus among prayer experts.

I soon figured out that I had been reciting the Lord’s Prayer for more than 50 years, but had no experience with praying the Lord’s Prayer. When I slowed down and started praying my way through the Lord’s Prayer, it became important to me.

The first way that I slowed down and began to pray the Lord’s Prayer was by studying the prayer and then writing it in my own words. Once upon a time I preached my Sunday morning sermons from the Greek New Testament, so creating my own translation of a text is something I have done many times. I don’t read Greek anymore, but often work with commentaries that were originally created for Bible translators to develop a deeper understanding.

Our Father,
May you be honored,
May your beloved community gather up all the peoples of the earth.
May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day what we need to live.
Forgive us our sins,
As we forgive those who sin against us.
Do not lead us into times of hard testing,
But deliver us from the Evil One.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory,
Forever and ever. Amen.

Praying this version of the Lord’s Prayer makes it easier for me to feel like I am talking to God and not just saying some words.

I promised to tell you how I have been combining physical prayer and the Lord’s Prayer in Part II, but that is going to have to wait for Part III.