The book The Lords Prayer for Daily Life was written in a way that we hope appeals to both teens and adults, each group of readers being able to take certain lessons from it, or simply food for further thought. But what about the child?
The Lord’s Prayer is the kind of prayer that children can learn at a young age, and it far surpasses that old standard: Now I lay me down to sleep; I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake; I pray the Lord my soul to take–a prayer which makes children think that the Grim Reaper is going to descend upon them in their sleep.
To assist Progressive Christian parents we’ve taken inspiration from the material of The Living Hour book to write some thoughts on how you can teach the Lord’s Prayer to your kids in a meaningful way, so that the act of childhood prayer goes beyond simple recitation. So, if you are asking how to teach the Lord’s Prayer to children, here are our suggestions:
Our Father who art in heaven. Jesus begins the Lord’s Prayer by letting us know that we are all in this together. God, the Father, is the father of all people. He is the father of people who we like and who we dislike; people who we agree with and who we disagree with; people who look like us and don’t look like us; people who believe in him and who don’t believe in him. By telling us that our one true Father is in heaven, Jesus is reminding as that we are all Sons and Daughters of God, and that our lives go on forever.
Hallowed be thy name. You know how when someone calls you by your name, it is like they think they know you? Well, Jesus doesn’t tell us God’s name in the Lord’s Prayer because God is so big we can never know all of him. Jesus can describe God’s name, though. He calls it hallowed. The word “hallowed” comes from the word “holy,” which comes from the word “whole”. Jesus wants us to see us and God always together as a whole being. We are not separate. We are one.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done. Jesus teaches us in the Bible that the kingdom of God is within us and all around us right now. The problem is that we often don’t see it. Because we don’t see his kingdom, we end up making a lot of bad choices. When we make good choices though we are doing the will of God. We are making his kingdom come alive inside of us and in other people. That is why we should always try hard to make good choices and love each other.
On earth as it is in heaven. When people die they go to heaven, but when they live they go to heaven too. It is just that on earth, heaven (like the kingdom) is pretty hard to see sometimes. People hurt each other and do bad things. We get angry when we don’t get what we want or when people are not nice to us. But Jesus wants us to know that if we can just let those bad feelings go and forgive people, the world can be a pretty wonderful place.
Give us this day our daily bread. We all need food to live, right? Well, in this part of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus also is talking about something that we need to live. But he is not talking about food. When Jesus taught he liked to use symbols. You know, like a smile is a symbol that you are happy. Jesus is using bread as a symbol of our experiences. Every day we have new experiences. These experiences can make us happy, sad, angry, or whatever. But we need them all, even if we don’t like them all. Because every experience helps us grow.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. We all makes mistakes. Sometimes we hurt the feelings of other people and don’t even know it. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus calls these things that we do wrong “trespasses”. When we trespass the most important thing is to understand what we’ve done. Then to ask for forgiveness. If you forgive other people, then they are more likely to forgive you. It is no good to stay angry at someone. It doesn’t feel good to be angry. When we get angry we just hurt ourselves. So, just forgive people, and you’ll feel a whole lot better. You will also feel a lot better when they forgive you, too.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. When we talk to God, sometimes we are tempted to ask him for things we don’t need. We pray to him for special favors. But with this line of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus is telling us that God is not our private wish factory. God already knows what we need, so we shouldn’t be tempted to pray for stuff. We can though pray for him to protect us all from harm; to protect us from doing things that hurt ourselves and other people–that is what deliver us from evil means.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever, amen. Jesus ends the prayer with some great news. He tells us that God, our Father, has a great kingdom, has great power, and has great glory. It must be great because it lasts forever and ever. Why is this such great news? Because God shares all of this with his children. That means us! We can share in his kingdom, his power, and his glory, if we pray a lot, forgive a lot, love a lot, and treat others like we want to be treated.
If Jesus were a Zen teacher what might he say? Click on Zen to find out.
The Lord’s Prayer is a short prayer but one that is layered with meaning. Read our free online book The Lord’s Prayer for Daily Life to begin discovering the prayer’s hidden meanings. Click the following link to begin reading the Living Hour book now: The Lord’s Prayer.