Written as a part of a Lent 2017 project.
This week, I tried to step up my Lent. I’m in the routine of reading and criticizing a Psalm every other morning-ish. Now I wanted to add in The Lord’s Prayer during my lunchtime walks out of the office.
Except I forgot it. I forgot the words of the first, most universal Christian prayer. Put me in a church and I’ll recite it along with everyone. Traditional, contemporary and sung are all in the repertoire. Put me in the park by myself and I’ll stumble after ‘Our father in heaven’, judging my mind for still, inevitably seeing a giant old guy on the clouds.
I had only been using The Lord’s Prayer as a membership anthem. There is something powerful in that and global unity it creates between Christians and churches, but prayer can’t be an act of recital alone. It needs to be a process.
Miranda Threlfall-Holmes Little Book of Prayer Experiments guided me in that process. Line by line, she concisely explains each line of The Lord’s Prayer, then asks the reader to personally reflect on what each line means and use them as nudges for what to pray.
Now when I say ‘You kingdom come, your will be done’, I pray for justice and peace in the world and see how I’m part of that. When I say ‘give us today our daily bread’, I question how I’m there for those living in poverty in the UK and abroad. I’m connecting God’s justice, myself and the world together. By contrast, reading the Psalms just seems to connect God and me in an individualised way that matters less to my faith.
I was further reminded on Wednesday, especially after the terrorist attack in Westminster, of Dave Tomilinson. In How to be a Bad Christian, he writes prayer in all expressions is always worthwhile. Even if you don’t believe there is a God directly answering prayers (see again the Psalmists), you are sending loving, happy thoughts into the world.
This week I learnt The Lord’s Prayer can be a focus of my happy thoughts and a time to realise what acts I can do to make them happen. I need those who tweeted #PrayForLondon to have known they were praying and known it was transforming themselves as well as the world.
How do you pray when it’s no longer your day job? After three and a half years working at Tearfund and Christian Aid, Joey is starting a new job at LGBT Organisation Stonewall. Joey blogs and tweets (@joeyknock) about faith, LGBTQ culture, masculinity, Disney, and Lorraine Kelly. Seaside walks in Southend make him happy.