Why I Mumble the Lord’s Prayer
By Beth Demme
I love it when we recite the Lord’s Prayer in worship, but recently I started mumbling it. On purpose.
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,
I used to say it loudly, articulating each word. I used the power of my voice to declare my prayer to God. I saw it as a personal moment of prayer between me and God. I wanted God to know that I really meant what I was saying. I didn’t intentionally speak louder than those around me, but I have a big voice and, in retrospect, I probably drowned them out more than once.
Then one Sunday morning, as we transitioned from the pastoral prayer to the Lord’s Prayer (as we say in my church: praying as Jesus taught us to pray), I didn’t declare it loudly. I’m not sure why. Maybe I was two beats behind, still contemplating the prayer the pastor had just shared. Or maybe I was grumpy and didn’t feel like praying. Maybe I had a sore throat. Or maybe the Holy Spirit moved to silence me. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t declare it in my big voice that day.
And a wonderful thing happened.
In my own silence, I heard the prayers of my friends being lifted up. I heard the voices of the congregation offering this prayer to God, instead of declaring this prayer to God. I was struck by how different those two can be, a prayer that is offered instead of a prayer that is declared.
As I listened to those around me say this prayer in their collective voice, I also understood myself differently. I felt the truth of what it means to be part of something bigger than myself, a community of worshippers. I understood myself to be part of the whole body of Christ.
In an instant, I realized being one part of a whole does not diminish me in any way. I am no less myself when I am part of the body of Christ. When I’m part of a community of worshippers I experience the truth of God’s love and the breadth of God’s grace as I see it shared among others.
Since that Sunday, I’ve started mumbling the Lord’s Prayer. Hearing those around me lift this prayer to God energizes me in a way that declaring this prayer to God in my own, solitary voice couldn’t.
I’m not energized because I think God tallies prayers like votes or calculates prayers like poll numbers.
Mumbling the Lord’s Prayer and embracing myself as part of the whole energizes me because I see others allowing God to work in them and through them, and that gives me hope that God will work in me and through me.
It’s encouraging to understand I’m only one of many who say God’s name is to be hallowed and who invite God’s will to be done here as it in heaven. We, together, ask God to provide for our daily bread and forgive us for our mistakes against others. As a collective, we ask God to show us how to forgive others and to protect us from temptation and evil. Together we declare that we know the kingdom, the power, and the glory are God’s forever. Amen.
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