Our Father in Heaven: A Prayer Service Using the Lord's Prayer and the Heidelberg Catechism
The Lord’s Prayer has often been a source for structuring congregational prayers. This service is actually an extended prayer based on the Lord’s Prayer and the commentary on it in the Heidelberg Catechism (Q&A 120-129). It was designed as the conclusion to a preaching series on the Lord’s Prayer; each of those services also included sections of the Heidelberg Catechism. Those of you who have saved back issues may want to see RW 20 (June 1991; no longer available) for a hymn festival service also based on the Lord’s Prayer and the Heidelberg Catechism.
Call to Worship: “Holy Ground”
(For a setting by Christopher Beatty, see More Songs for Praise and Worship 85; for another setting by Geron Davis see 86 as well as The Celebration Hymnal 138; a composite of those two songs is available on line at www.redsal.com/church15.htm.)
Welcome and Opening Prayer (concluded with: We pray in the name of Jesus, who taught us to pray, saying, “Our Father . . .”)
Scripture: Matthew 6:5-14 (concluded with singing the Lord’s Prayer)
The First Request
Prayer 1: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name . . .
Help us to really know you,
to bless, worship, and praise you for all your
and for all that shines forth from them:
your almighty power, wisdom, kindness, jus-
tice, mercy, and truth.
Help us to direct all our living—what we think,
say, and do—
so that your name will never be blasphemed
because of us
but always honored and praised.
Psalm of praise: “Lord, Our Lord, Your Glorious Name” PsH 8, TWC 319 or “Let All Creation Bless the Lord” SNC 34
The Second Request
Prayer 2: Your kingdom come . . .
Rule us by your Word and Spirit in such a way
that more and more we submit to you.
Keep your church strong, and add to it.
Destroy the devil’s work;
destroy every force which revolts against you
and every conspiracy against your Word.
Do this until your kingdom is so complete and
that in it you are all in all.
Hymn: “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” PsH 329, PH 2, RL 183, SFL 122, TH 196, TWC 135 or “O Christ, the Great Foundation” SNC 177
The Third Request
Prayer 3: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven . . .
Help us and all people to reject our own wills
and to obey your will without any back talk.
Your will alone is good.
Help everyone carry out the work we are
as willingly and faithfully as the angels in
Hymn: “Take My Life and Let It Be” PsH 288 PH 391, TH 585, TWC 568 or “Mayenziwe/Your Will Be Done” SNC 198
The Fourth Request
Prayer 4: Give us today our daily bread . . .
Do take care of all our physical needs
so that we come to know
that you are the only source of everything
and that neither our work and worry nor your
can do us any good without your blessing.
And so help us to give up our trust in creatures
and to put trust in you alone.
Song: “We Plow the Fields and Scatter” PsH 456, PH 560, RL 17, TH 714 or “Table of Plenty” SNC 247
The Fifth Request
Prayer 5: Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors . . .
Because of Christ’s blood,
do not hold against us, poor sinners that we are,
any of the sins we do
or the evil that constantly clings to us.
Forgive us just as we are fully determined,
as evidence of your grace in us,
to forgive our neighbors.
Song: “Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive” PsH 266 PH 347, RN 184, TH 494 or “Perdón, SeÃ±or/Forgive Us, Lord” SNC 59
The Sixth Request
Prayer 6: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one . . .
By ourselves we are too weak
to hold our own even for a moment.
And our sworn enemies—
the devil, the world, and our own flesh—
never stop attacking us.
And so, Lord, uphold us and make us strong
with the strength of your Holy Spirit,
so that we may not go down to defeat
in this spiritual struggle,
but may firmly resist our enemies
until we finally win the complete victory.
Song: “Spirit of God, Who Dwells Within My Heart” PsH 419, PH 326, RL 445, TH 338, TWC 290 or “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me” PH 363, SFL 214, SNC 130, TH 611, TWC 642
The Conclusion to the Prayer
Prayer 7: For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever . . .
We have made all these requests of you
because, as our all-powerful king,
you not only want to,
but are able to give us all that is good;
and because your holy name,
and not we ourselves,
should receive all the praise, forever.
Song: “Lead On, O King Eternal” PsH 555, PH 447, RL 423, TH 580, TWC 747 or “Lord Most High” SNC 47
Worship leader: Amen.
This is sure to be!
It is even more sure that God listens to my
than that I really desire what I pray for.
Song: “Fourfold Amen” PsH 641
Anthem: “The Lord’s Prayer”
Notes on the Service
- During the service, we heard the entire Lord’s Prayer three times: once said by all at the conclusion to the opening prayer, another time sung by all as part of Scripture, and a final time sung by a soloist. There are many musical settings for congregational singing, including PsH 207, 208 and SNC 196.
- The individual prayers were prayed by members of the congregation on the topic of the petition as described by the Heidelberg Catechism. Each prayer began with a petition from the Lord’s Prayer, continued extemporaneously, and ended with the words “Father, hear us as we pray . . . ,” which prompted the congregational conclusion from the Heidelberg Catechism to that part of the prayer.
- Each Q&A of the Heidelberg Catechism includes many Scripture references that are excellent sources for ideas and wording for extemporaneous prayers. (See www.crcna.org/howeare/beliefs/ confess_heidelberg.asp?WhoWeAreMenu.)
- See The Worship Sourcebook for similar prayers based on the Heidelberg Catechism (4.4.11) and the Westminster Shorter Confession (4.4.12).
- The service is itself a prayer, including all of the songs. Two song suggestions are given each time. Other songs can easily be chosen; when looking for alternative selections, look for those that use “we” rather than “I.”
- The deacon’s prayer for the offering was woven into the prayer for “Give us this day our daily bread.” The offering’s recipient was an organization that provides shelter and food for homeless families.
- A meditation could be included; one suggestion is for the worship leader to proclaim significant sections of the “Sermon on the Mount” in a modern paraphrase such as The Message.