The Loss Of The Lord’s Prayer!
•‘It Is An Act Of Arrogance And Laziness On The Part Of Any Church Or Christian To Avoid The Prayer’
•‘It Can Be Repeated As Often As Possible Because It Contains Everything’
Before ending His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ taught His disciples at their request how to go about supplicating to the Almighty Father for their prayers to be granted. Said He to them: “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” (Matthew 6:9-13). However, observations have revealed that many churches in Nigeria no longer bother about this prayer, which has been supplanted by their own specially formed prayers. Similarly, many schools no longer encourage their pupils to say the prayer at the assembly grounds before the resumption of lessons. But should this be the case? Should any prayer supersede or be more potent than the one handed down by the Master Himself, whose footstep they claim to be following? How often should Christians say the Lord’s Prayer? CHRIS IREKAMBA reports.
‘New Comers May Not Know The Importance Of Our Lord’s Prayer’
(His Eminence Dr. Samuel ’Emeka Kanu Uche, Prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria (MCN)
There is no prayer that is higher than the Lord’s Prayer. That is the guide that Jesus gave to us. In our church, we say it as many times as we pray in a day. We observe it as the Lord taught us. It is incumbent upon us, as it is something we must do always. We say it regularly, just like the Anglicans and Catholics. But the new comers may not know its importance. “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name is adoration. “Thy kingdom come…” contains a petition, intercession, confession, forgiveness, as well as thanksgiving, which is the pattern of the church in prayer. Though short, but it is an all-embracing prayer. And if we do everything contained in that prayer, the world will be a good place to be. We tell God: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.” But His will is no longer being done on earth, as is done in heaven. Many people are doing what they like. If you are guilty of a sin, it might be difficult to confess the name of Jesus Christ. But if you don’t have any skeleton in your cupboard and you say the prayer, nothing could be more potent. I think it is an act of arrogance and laziness on the part of any church or Christian to avoid that prayer. So, I believe it is something we should be saying every time. The summary in the Lord’s Prayer: “give us our daily bread,” means contentment, being contented with what you have and not being covetous. If we were contented with what we have, what we call corruption would not have even come into existence in the first place. What causes corruption is discontentment. Jesus wants us to live a simple life, which if we do, would prevent such sicknesses as hypertension and stress. Prayer is more powerful than talisman, juju or whatever anybody may think of.
‘We Teach Our Children The Lord’s Prayer, Even The Shepherd’s Prayer’
(Aransiola Oluwole, Head Master, Rising Sun Children School, Mafoluku, Oshodi, Lagos)
After experiencing the Holy Ghost baptism on the day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2), we don’t know whether the Disciples rendered the Lord’s Prayer anywhere else in the Bible. Even before Jesus Christ left, that system of prayer had gone into extinction. That we are referring to it now is because Jesus taught us there is somebody bigger than Himself somewhere and controlling us.
If the Lord’s Prayer has vanished from assemblies, it is due to the prosperity preaching people are fed with these days, coupled with the environment. All this has affected the canticles whether in the Catholic, Anglican or Methodist Church. Those canticles have gone into extinction because of what we are passing through and the trend of life. So, people have forgotten to say, “Our father which art in heaven…” But here in our school, we recite the Lord’s Prayer, after which we also teach the children Psalm 23, which is the Shepherd’s Prayer. They may not know the meaning now, but later in life as they grow up, they will. As children, we teach them so that they can know it because it is a simple prayer they can render. Many of them have testified openly that when they were in one problem or the other and they recited “our father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…” something suddenly happened and they were able to solve the problem. It was because they were taught these godly virtues early in life, and not as adults.
Whether we like it or not, the Lord’s Prayer cannot go into extinction. The prayer is like a language and no language can die just like that. Now, if you want to verify what I’m saying, you can come here in the morning around 7.50am or 8am and you will see our children reciting the Lord’s Prayer, as well as the Shepherd’s prayer on their own, except for those in KG Class. My predecessor was a Muslim, but he ensured that the school observed the Lord’s Prayer. From the first day they were admitted, the children are taught the Lord’s Prayer, because the love of God is embedded in it.
The Lord’s Prayer may have vanished in some schools, but definitely not in Rising Sun Children School.
‘The Lord’s Prayer Is Not Meant To Be Recited Every Time’
(Pastor William Folorunso Kumuyi, General Superintendent of Deeper Life Christian Ministry)
Prayer is crucial in our relationship with God. It is the mode by which we commune with Him, make requests, and receive answers from heaven. Little wonder, the Lord considered it necessary to teach believers how to pray and how not to pray. “When thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are,” He admonished. “When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do.” Rather, as you pray, “enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret.” In giving us the pattern of prayer, the Lord said: “After this manner therefore pray ye: “Our Father …” Ordinarily, as believers, “We know not what we should pray for as we ought.” This then explains why the disciples pleaded, “Lord, teach us to pray”.
In the Lord’s Prayer, He has given us the pattern or model of prayer. The prayer is brief and compressed in few words. Though it has only 66 words in its original Greek version, it is so encompassing that none else but the Son of God could have given us such a model.
The Lord’s Prayer is not meant to be recited every time. Neither Christ nor His disciples repeated or recited the prayer before or after Pentecost. The prayer is to guide us on how to pray and what to pray for. “After this manner therefore pray ye …” From the very first words and throughout this model prayer, we learn that effective praying demands fellowship and relationship with God. Starting from “Our Father which art in heaven”, and learning to understand one phrase after another, we see Christ’s emphasis on a Father-child relationship, Deity-worshipper relationship, a Sovereign-subject relationship, a Master-servant relationship, a Benefactor-beneficiary relationship, a Saviour-sinner relationship, and a Guide-pilgrim relationship. Having a right relationship with God is, therefore, essential and indispensable in prayer. Prayer is not just a religious duty, it is a family privilege. In Christ’s teaching and in the Christian life, prayer is not mechanical but spiritual. In saying, “our Father, our daily bread, give us, forgive us, lead us, deliver us”, it shows that we should come to God with an unselfish spirit, a dependent spirit, a penitent spirit, a humble spirit.
Praying with concern for “Thy Name, Thy Kingdom, Thy will, Thy glory”, we see the need for a childlike spirit, a reverent spirit, a loyal spirit, a submissive spirit, and a confident spirit in prayer. Such fellowship with God as Father demands faith, exultation, love, loyalty, obedience, worship, submission, humility, intimacy and praise. Prayer, then, as Jesus taught and demonstrated, comes from the heart, not just from the head or merely from our lips. Starting with God’s praise and priority and ending with God’s power and pre-eminence, with everything within the prayer, this model prayer concentrates and focuses on God. God’s honour and glory have always been the concern and focus of true believers in prayer.
‘It Can Be Repeated Many Times Because It Contains Everything’
(Anthony Olubunmi Cardinal Okogie, Archbishop Emeritus of Lagos
That the Lord’s Prayer is vanishing in many churches is not actually true. This may be so in other assemblies, but in the Catholic, where I belong, we observe it regularly. How can you tell me that the prayer composed by Jesus Christ whom we all believe is the second person in the Trinity is not holy? What do you want to replace the Lord’s Prayer with? Is it to start clapping hands, jumping up and down or what? “Our Father…”, the father of everybody. I remember during Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s time, when they wanted to pass the pledge, I went to him at Dodan Barracks and said: ‘Sorry sir, the Christian Association of Nigeria sent me to you that we are not against the pledge but against its wordings. That instead of saying I pledge to my country you can say I pledge to God’. Humbly I told him, ‘why can’t you say, I pledge to You O Heavenly Father’ and you can then add whatever you want to it? He jumped out of his seat and said: “if you have not mastered it go and learn it.” Look at the situation we have found ourselves today. Where is our respect for God? How can you say, “Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven…” is no more. Jesus never said pray once or twice, but as often as possible. So, we need to say it, recite every time. It can be repeated as often as possible because it contains everything “Give us this day, our daily bread…” and so on.
‘We Use The Prayer In Various Situations’
(Bishop Sola Ore, Chairman, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Lagos Chapter)
The Lord’s Prayer has not really vanished, but many people pray using the principles of the Lord’s Prayer “thy kingdom come, thy will be done…” We use this to pray in our various situations and I also agree with you that most of the times we pray, it’s not kingdom-based. Sometimes it’s about material things, which is unfortunate. The message of the Bible has been tilted to satisfy our craze for material things. The Bible says we should seek His kingdom and His righteousness first and all other things shall be added. I agree with you that we pray more of selfish prayer than of kingdom-based prayer and the church needs to return back to the principles. We should be more kingdom-minded than worldly-minded.
Today, the church of Jesus Christ is tending towards materialism, which is not the best. Prosperity is in the Bible, but what we are doing now is not even prosperity but materialism, where some people will boast of having five cars and 10 houses. But that does not measure the life of a man. The Bible says: “The life of a man does not consist in the abundance of things that he possesseth.” We should be kingdom-minded so that when we ask God for anything, He will give it to us.
‘Most People Adopt Principles In The Lord’s Prayer’
(Joseph Olanrewaju Obembe, Charismatic Cardinal and Archbishop-elect of El-Shaddai Bible Church, Ikoyi, Lagos)
Bible scholars are of the opinion that what we call the Lord’s Prayer is found in John 17, where Jesus prayed His priestly prayer, as He was going to exit this planet earth. His Disciples asked Him “to teach them how to pray” and what He actually did was to give them a prototype. Actually, they asked Him to teach them how to pray, but He started teaching them how to praise, that when you want to pray you should not start with your request, rather, you should start with adoration or appreciation of God in the affairs of human life, that “Our father which in art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…” before even making any request. We are to enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. So, most people are adopting the principles that you have in the Lord’s Prayer that you should enter His gates with praise and thanksgiving (Psalm 100). Let His kingdom come before we start making request and when you are closing, you still ascribe greatness to Him. Thy O Lord is the kingdom, the power, and the glory and so on.
I won’t say the Lord’s Prayer is vanishing. It’s just that the concept and the principles involved, when the Lord taught the Disciples how to pray, are being embraced by the disciples of today. We still observe the Lord’s Prayer in our church, as the spirit leads us.
Of course, I agree with you that some people offer prayers that are not scriptural because if you ask God to kill everybody, who are we going to evangelise? There are some people, of course, that must go for you to grow. It is probably taken out of context. Every aspect of our life must be regulated by God’s word. So, any prayer that is inconsistent with Biblical revelation must not be allowed.
‘We Don’t Necessarily Say The Lord’s Prayer In Every Service’
(Taiwo Akinola, Presiding Bishop, Rhema Christian Church, Sango Ota, Ogun State)
It must not vanish because it is the Lord’s Prayer. I also must serve this notice that Jesus didn’t say pray this prayer. Rather, He said pray like this… it is a prayer guideline and He didn’t say we must repeat it at every service. But when you look at it, it says, “Our father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…” The first thing you do in prayer is to give Him thanks. He says pray also about the kingdom so that “thy kingdom comes “thy will be done.” Another prayer point says, “be committed to God’s kingdom… what I’m saying in essence is that He didn’t say pray this prayer, He only gave us a format of prayer. And so, I am also worried that modern day churches have forgotten the assignment of God’s kingdom and what Jesus Christ has put down as conditions, which ought not to be. We must revert to the scripture. However, I must re-emphasise the fact that He didn’t say we must repeat that prayer often and again but rather we should pray without ceasing.
The subject of prayer is a very elaborate one. It is not summed up in that pattern. For instance, He said, “if you call upon me I will answer you and I will show you great and mighty things, which thy knoweth not.” He also said “ask and you shall receive, seek you shall find, knock and the doors will be opened.” But what if I need a wife, which is not in the Lord’s Prayer? I can still ask him. If I need promotion in my place of work, which is not contained in the Lord’s Prayer, I still need to ask Him. If I need victory over witches and wizards I don’t need to repeat the Lord’s Prayer. I can ask God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ and He will grant it. So, we must get things right. The position of prayer is a great one, as you can pray and talk to God. Prayer is the only platform, where we tell God what we need. So, it should not be reduced to a particular format alone. We still pray the Lord’s Prayer in our church, but we don’t repeat the words often because we find out that other prayers exist in the scriptures. For example, in John 17, Jesus prayed about the church, about the believers and all that. Why don’t we repeat that one, why is it only one format? The Church Council brought it out many years ago. But the format we must follow is: “thank God, hallow His name, pray about God’s kingdom, ask for your daily needs and things like that. But in living churches, we make room for the Holy Spirit. You just allow Him talk to you.
The Bible says: “As many that are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.” We also pray to Him in tongues. We speak in tongues, which is a prayer that you cannot say, “this is the way we do it in your church, the way we do it in our church” and that kind of a thing. What I’m trying to say is that we don’t necessarily say the Lord’s Prayer at every service, which is not a sin. It may be an act of answer to inspiration from the Holy Spirit that we can now interpret it. There’s no living church, where we don’t make the worship of God central. In fact, the most important thing we do in the church is to worship God, which is the first thing Jesus said, “Hallowed be thy name.” He just used it as a summary and then we are taught of the kingdom. Evangelism is part of the kingdom. Is righteousness, peace and joy not in the Holy Ghost? He said that is the kingdom of God so that is what Jesus is saying: “Thy will be done, thy kingdom come.” So, Jesus summarised it. In a nutshell, we pray that prayer elaborately, but not in the reduced format, as is done in orthodox churches.
‘The Lord’s Prayer Is Broken Down In Many Ways’
(Rev. Dr. Sam Ogedengbe, General Overseer, Overcomers Pentecostal Ministries, Abule-Egba, Lagos)
The Lord’s Prayer has not faded away. It is still in existence in many assemblies, working and in operation. It depends on the way you are looking at it. The Lord’s Prayer is still intact and is still functioning in today’s church. It all depends on the way you are looking it. People are professing and confessing it. So, there is nothing missing there.
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