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    Home Education, Other Thoughts

    A New Way to Think About the Lord’s Prayer

    March 8, 2017 by Brandy Vencel

    We’ve talked before about teaching children to pray using a prayer box. This is a similar endeavor, but this time our tool is The Lord’s Prayer rather than a plastic box and stack of index cards. I mentioned this in a recent Scholé Sisters podcast, and to be honest, I can’t take credit for it. Like all of my best thoughts, this one isn’t actually mine. I think I caught it in seminary, but it didn’t really take root until we had a pastor who modeled this approach in the pulpit.

    On teaching our children to pray using The Lord's Prayer as a framework of ideas to give our thoughts form and structure.

    The basic idea is to use The Lord’s Prayer as a framework for praying. Jesus said we should pray like this. There are two ways to interpret this. The first is, of course, to memorize it and recite it verbatim (we do that — in fact, I really think this is a necessary first step if you want to do what I’m talking about here). The second is to pray in a way that is like it — conforming our prayers to the form and structure we find in it. That’s all I mean when I call it a framework.

    Before I break it down, I just want to clarify that I really think this works for older children. My youngest is eight, but if he were my oldest I wouldn’t have done this yet, if that makes sense.

    Also, it isn’t like we do this, in all its parts, on a single day. I think that’d be overwhelming for all but perhaps high schoolers. Instead, we might choose a couple things to touch on — or we might decide in advance where our prayer cards fit into this bigger scheme.

    So let’s break it down!

    On teaching our children to pray using The Lord's Prayer as a framework of ideas to give our thoughts form and structure.Our Father who art in heaven…

    We open by remembering our relationship to God. We are His people, His children. This is a great honor we can thank Him for, it’s also a loving relationship, and this is a good place to express that familial type of love.

    We also remember that He is in heaven — He is above us, and He is ruling all things.

    Hallowed be thy name.

    Our focus here is holiness. We pray that His name be kept holy and that the behavior of His Church reflects this — that we each keep ourselves holy because we belong to His name.

    Thy kingdom come.

    We pray for Him to triumph over all things (including His eventual victory over death, the last enemy), we ask for His return, we pray for the lost (we desire the kingdom to come in their hearts), and we pray for our missionaries who are working to translate Scripture into tongues that have never yet heard the Gospel.

    Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

    We pray for His will to be done, not ours — sometimes we put things that seem confusing here, where perhaps it is hard for us to discern His will, so we pray that it will happen and we don’t try to stop it in ignorance. We pray that our wills align with His.

    Give us this day our daily bread…

    We cast our small cares and needs upon Him. Here we pray about the stuff of life — finances and broken cars and sicknesses and such. We trust in His care on this particular day.

    This is where I start with my children. Children can be taught very young to bring their requests to God, so when I try to fit this into the larger framework of The Lord’s Prayer, this is an easy starting place. We can recite everything up to this point, say, “Give us this day our daily bread,” and then pause briefly for each person to pray about their small troubles, and then continue on with reciting the rest of the prayer.

    And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…

    Here is a good place for confession of sin, requests for forgiveness, and requests for help in forgiving others. We remember that Christ gave us the ministry of reconciliation and peacemaking and pray accordingly.

    And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…

    Here go prayers for moral/spiritual protection for ourselves and others, prayers for deliverance out of serious trials and protection during them.

    For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.

    Here go praise and reveling in Him, His kingdom, the beauty of His will, etc., with a special remembrance that He is sovereign.

    It’s a simple thing, really.

    The structure this has lent to our morning prayer time has been quite helpful.

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  • Reply Mariel March 8, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    Oh good! I was hoping you would write this post after you talking about it on Schole Sisters! 🙂

    • Reply Mariel March 12, 2017 at 3:13 pm

      Talked, not talking. ?

  • Reply Denise Gaskins March 8, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    One of my favorite ways to pray — so simple, yet so deep. Here is Martin Luther’s letter about it.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 8, 2017 at 9:07 pm

      Ooh…thank you, Denise! It’s funny: I don’t recall knowing that this was a Luther thing, but I bet that’s where my pastor got it. I love how ideas are contagious like this. ♥

  • Reply Tricia March 8, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    Yes! Responding to God’s Word in prayer. It’s essentially narrating back to Him but mixed with our own heart! This is exactly how Martin Luther taught his barber how to pray (and wrote a little book about which I haven’t read). But my kids very much enjoyed RC Sproul’s children’s book about this called The Barber Who Wanted to Pray. It uses The Lord’s Prayer, the 10 Commandments and the creed as examples, but can be done with any Scripture!:). My children are young but we model this and I’ve heard their efforts and it does give them a framework. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Catie March 8, 2017 at 11:11 am

    Love this. Teaching our children how to pray using the Lord’s model is such a useful thing! Some of us grow up in church and it’s assumed that certain things will be picked up regarding our faith, but we forget that children don’t have the life experiences that we do. (Why do we do that?) 🙂 Hope that makes sense! We just take things like praying and the basics of our faith for granted, I guess is what I mean.

  • Reply dawn March 8, 2017 at 7:29 am

    The Catechisms (Westminster and For Young Children … what is the first petition?) are a great help here, too. I’ve been reading When You Pray for more than a year now (I suppose that means I haven’t been reading it hmmm …. I’ve been reading it inconsistently) and it has been a wonderful help in looking at the Lord’s prayer in this way.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 8, 2017 at 9:49 am

      I haven’t heard of that book before — I will have to look it up. Thank you!

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