By LINDA M. LINONIS
The Lord’s Prayer is so ingrained in many Christians that they can’t remember when they didn’t know it.
The prayer is the focus of a six-week Lenten study at First Presbyterian Church, 890 Churchill Road. The study, which began Feb. 17, is at 6 p.m. Sundays through March 24.
The Rev. Deborah Dockstader, pastor, discussed the study on the Biblical context and the prayer’s relevance in today’s world. The church, which often has discussions on contemporary issues, decided to “look at the basics.”
Pastor Debby said the Lord’s Prayer and Apostle’s Creed are part of worship. “What do they mean ... what are we saying,” she asked. “This study is about taking time to understand the depth of words.”
The pastor said the Lord’s Prayer is often called a “model of prayer.” “Jesus gave us this example of how to reach out to God.”
The fact that so many people have known the prayer all their lives is revealing. “Christians and non-Christians know it,” she said.
Pastor Debby said the study group will examine phrases in the prayer.
“Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”
The pastor said for some people, the father concept is unfamiliar. “We understand father through our experiences,” she said. “Most people know what a father should be,” she added, but have no firsthand knowledge.
She suggested that the words “our Father” indicate that those praying approach God as a child to a father.
“Thy kingdom come.”
“Where is the kingdom of God?” Pastor Debby asked. “Maybe it’s a journey ... not a destination” she suggested. “It’s what we’re working for.”
“Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
“Our self-interest should be second to the community,” the pastor said.
“Give us this day our daily bread.”
The pastor said this phrase may suggest “God of the present” and how we should “live for this day.”
“And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us.”
The pastor said discussion about that phrase could deal with “what it menas to forgive” and “who benefits by forgiving.” The one forgiving “is really made whole” because holding a grudge for a perceived or real transgression “is no way to live.” The pastor noted forgiveness is a “new beginning that God gives to us.”
Pastor Debby described prayer as a relationship with God in “the depth of your soul.” Prayer is a way to “open up to God.”
Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer as a “guideline for living,” the pastor said. Prayer may help us make decisions according to our relationship with God.
“Jesus understood pressure and stress,” Pastor Debby said, citing times when He went off alone to pray. That shows how prayer can give us “strength, perseverance and wisdom when we’re floundering,” she said.