“Our Father . . . give us . . . forgive us . . .lead us . . .deliver us.”
This past week I was one of approximately 150 unlikely people drawn together by a mutual desire to support the family of a dear saint who suffered an untimely death. At such times there is an understandable awkwardness, in part due to the diversity of those in attendance and the fact that many, although they knew the deceased, do not know one another. When we gathered in the funeral home chapel, and the service proceeded, as is often the case, one could hear a pin drop save for the voice of the pastor conducting the service.
Toward the end of the service, the pastor invited the congregation to stand and join her in the saying the Lord’s Prayer. I must say, given the mix of people in the room, the wide age span, obvious diversity of religious backgrounds and solemnity permeating the room, I did not expect much response – perhaps at best a perfunctory mumbling recitation by a few who knew the prayer and professed a Christian faith. I was genuinely and pleasantly caught off guard. The entire gathering, almost with gusto, prayed the entire prayer from memory without a hitch and the volume and deep resonance of the blended voices filled the room. It was as if the lid of a pressure cooker had been taken off releasing a pent up expression of corporate faith and love. The atmosphere in the room changed with the confession of that timeless prayer. In some mysterious way it bound everyone together in a shared grief for the passing of a loved one and the hope of eternity and the resurrection. It was, at least for me, a holy moment worth treasuring and meditating upon.
Why, in what is increasingly being called a non-Christian culture, does the Lord’s Prayer still have such a wide base appeal and effect? There are probably a number of reasons that could be cited. I will limit my attempts to answer this question to two.
First the Lord’s Prayer reveals some very compelling qualities about the God to whom Jesus was instructing us to pray.