Prayer is both formal and informal. Informal prayer is that unrehearsed prayer that rises up deep from within when worry or joy flood our lives. Informal prayer is the spontaneous prayer brought on by sharing our lives together. Informal prayer is the guttural prayer that surprises us as much as it surprises God (or the profanity laced prayer when you stub your toe).
Formal prayer, on the other hand, has forethought or intentionality: the well thought out written prayer rooted in ancient texts and theology, or the blessing bestowed on a child at baptism. Formal prayer also includes the rote prayers we know by heart, that we can recite from memory, even when memory fails us.
Scripture is full of prayer (“Lord, save me.”says Peter in Matthew 14:30, “Lord, have mercy on me,” says the tax collector in Luke 18:13, “Abba, Father,” cries Jesus himself in Mark 14:36), but there is one prayer from scripture that we all know by heart: The Lord’s Prayer. Is it possible for The Lord’s Prayer to stop feeling routine and start sparking something new? Does the familiarity of The Lord’s Prayer, or the formality give the prayer more power, not less? Does the prayer universality make it more innately personal?
Below is a prayer that serves as an invitation to rethink or reimagine or re-encounter the Lord’s Prayer. May your prayer, whether formal or informal, rote or routine, surprising or spontaneous be a blessing to you this day.
Let us pray:
Heavenly Father, heavenly Mother,
Holy and blessed is your true name.
We pray for your reign of peace to come,
We pray that your good will be done,
Let heaven and earth become one.
Give us this day the bread we need,
Give it to those who have none.
Let forgiveness flow like a river between us,
From each one to each one.
Lead us to holy innocence
Beyond the evil of our days—Come swiftly Mother, Father, come.
For yours is the power and the glory and the mercy:
Forever your name is All in One.
—Parker Palmer, b. 1939
Tomorrow, we begin a nine week study on The Lord’s Prayer: online Wednesdays at 9 a.m. We hope you will join us.