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Praying the Lord's Prayer During Lent

This is the second in a series of articles about encouraging faith formation in your congregation’s worship.

Lent is the time when people give up something they enjoy—chocolate, television, video games, or something else—to remind them of Jesus’ sacrifice and to focus their attention more fully on God. For children, and for some adults, this custom can become merely a feat in which we prove something to ourselves, to God, or perhaps to our friends. Giving things up isn’t really the point, though. The point is to engage with God in a deeper way during Lent. “Giving up” something is simply a way to help us accomplish that.

Instead of giving something up, Carolyn Brown suggests that we “give ourselves up to something for Lent” (Sharing the Easter Faith with Children, 2005). Our focus for Lent should be on doing something to grow closer to God, not just on denying ourselves.

Our congregation chose to learn and review the Lord’s Prayer during Lent. Many children studied the prayer in their church school classes; others prayed it together every week. Families were encouraged to memorize and pray the Lord’s Prayer and to read Matthew 6:5-15 or Luke 11:1-13 for family devotions.

In worship, in addition to praying the Lord’s Prayer we used the following litanies to help the congregation focus on one of the prayer’s petitions each week. While we used these litanies in our opening of worship, they could be used in other parts of the worship service as well.

Parts of these litanies have been adapted from “Rattling Heaven’s Doors: Six Service Plans Based on the Lord’s Prayer” by Roy Berkenbosch and Cheryl Mahaffy (RW 68).

Week 1

Reader 1: On this day, we come boldly into the presence of our God, praying with our Savior as he taught us to pray:
People: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Reader 2: We join with Christians around the world as we say:
People: hallowed be your name.
Reader 1: God, you created all things and hold us in the palm of your hand.
People: Hallowed be your name.
Reader 2: Great God, you are anywhere and everywhere, beyond the stars and the moon; you are here with us today but also in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in the Sudan; you are with the hungry and the oppressed in Somalia, in Bosnia, and wherever people are in need:
People: hallowed be your name.
Reader 1: God in heaven, you are at work in schools, in farms, and in factories,
Reader 2: you heal the sick and minister to the poor and homeless:
People: our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Week 2

Reader 1: On this day, we come into the presence of our God, praying with our Savior as he taught us to pray:
People: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name; your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Reader 2: We join with Christians around the world as we say:
People: May your kingdom come!
Reader 1: To those who are poor,
Reader 2: to those who are hungry,
People: may your kingdom come!
Reader 1: To those who despair,
Reader 2: to those who weep,
People: may your kingdom come!
Reader 1: To those who long for peace,
Reader 2: to those who are in the midst of war
People: may your kingdom come!
Reader 1: Help us to work for the coming of your kingdom.
Reader 2: Much is broken, yet we work for renewal, for justice, and for peace.
People: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Reader 1: Use us as your instruments.
Reader 2: Help us to see the possibilities before us.
People: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Reader 1: Give us vision so that our work may be part of the coming of your kingdom.
Reader 2: Give us the courage to do what you ask of us.
People: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name; your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Week 3

Reader 1: On this day, we come into the presence of our God, praying with our Savior as he taught us to pray:
People: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name; your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.
Reader 2: We join with Christians around the world as we say:
People: Give us today our daily bread.
Reader 1: We pray this for ourselves but also for people who are hungry throughout the world.
People: Give us today our daily bread.
Reader 2: We ask not just for daily bread, but for all our daily needs.
Reader 1: We are grateful for food that comes to us from farms and from gardens, from stores and from restaurants.
People: Give us today our daily bread.
Reader 2: We ask for things to quench our thirst.
Reader 1: We are grateful for water from streams and from lakes,
Reader 2: for milk and for wine and for other good things to drink.
People: Give us today our daily bread.
Reader 1: Our daily bread is more than what we eat and drink.
Reader 2: We ask for governments that are just,
Reader 1: for homes that are places of peace and renewal.
Reader 2: We thank you for all these things that allow us to enjoy our daily bread.
People: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name; your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.

Week 4

Reader 1: On this day, we come into the presence of our God, praying with our Savior as he taught us to pray:
People: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name; your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Reader 2: We join with Christians around the world as we say:
People: forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Reader 1: We have done things that we are ashamed of.
Reader 2: We have done things that have hurt others.
People: Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Reader 1: We have hurt others without even realizing it.
Reader 2: We have not reached out to help others who need help,
Reader 1: who are hurting or who are hungry.
People: Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Reader 2: Help us to know when we have sinned.
Reader 1: Help us to turn to you in repentance.
Reader 2: Help us to turn to you for forgiveness.
People: Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Week 5

Reader 1: On this day, we come into the presence of our God, praying with our Savior as he taught us to pray:
People: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name; your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Reader 2: We join with Christians around the world as we say:
People: Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Reader 1: Lord, keep us from speaking when we should not,
Reader 2: from being silent when we should speak.
People: Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Reader 1: Keep us from looking at things we should not see,
Reader 2: from listening to things we should not hear.
People: Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Reader 1: Help us safely navigate the distractions of the world.
Reader 2: Help us to pay attention to you.
People: Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Week 6

Reader 1: On this day, we come into the presence of our God, praying with our Savior as he taught us to pray:
People: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name; your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Reader 2: We join with Christians around the world as we say:
People: Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Reader 1: We think that we are in charge, Lord, but we know that
People: yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Reader 2: We want things to go our way, Lord, but we know that
People: yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Reader 1: We think we know what we need, that we know what the world needs, but we know, Lord, that
People: yours is the kingdom, yours is the power and yours is the glory
Reader 2: forever and ever.
People: Forever and ever. Amen.