26th November 2020
Good morning everyone, it's Mrs Horlock.
The Lord be with you.
We are Bishop Ridley.
We are one community,
Learning and Growing together,
Sharing the love of God.
During this collective worship, we will be looking at the Lord’s Prayer - the special prayer that Jesus taught his disciples, the words of which can be found in the New Testament part of the Bible.
In particular, we are going to be thinking about what the Lord’s Prayer has meant to different people.
First, though, I would like to hear some of your ideas about prayer. I would like you to now turn to the person next to you and have a go at answering the following questions.
- What does the word ‘prayer’ mean?
- What kinds of things can we say in a prayer?
- Is it better to read out a prayer from a book or make up your own prayer?
- When might you say a prayer?
The Lord’s Prayer was written nearly 2000 years ago, but people all over the world still say it in churches every Sunday and in schools and in their homes. I thought it would be interesting to find out why this old prayer is still so important for people today, so I managed to find three short accounts of times when the Lord’s Prayer was especially important to different people.
On 11 September 2001, John Mahony, a retired US Army lieutenant colonel, was working on the nineteenth floor of a huge building in New York called the World Trade Centre when, suddenly, the building jerked hard, throwing everyone off balance. At first he thought it was an earthquake, though his army training told him it was something else that had caused the problem.
John and those working near him needed to get out of the building as quickly as possible, so they headed down a smoke-filled staircase. Surrounded by frightened people and wondering if he was going to survive, John just kept saying the words of the Lord’s Prayer over and over again.
John was used to saying the Lord's Prayer every day and saying it on this particular day seemed to provide him with stability. John later said, ‘In that smoky, wet stairway, in a burning building, surrounded by a thousand frightened people, I felt wonder. I felt God's peace and I knew that, regardless of the physical outcome, everything would be all right.’
For John, reciting the Lord’s Prayer on the most difficult day of his life helped him and gave him a great sense of God’s peace.
Many of the soldiers who fought in the First World War knew the Lord’s Prayer by heart and would recite it when life on the battlefield was frightening, difficult or disturbing. A bit like John Mahony, saying the Lord’s Prayer during the most difficult times of their lives helped them – it seemed to bring them comfort.
'And then I will tuck the bedclothes in around her, and straighten the top sheet, bend to kiss her and say, "Shall we say prayers?" And then a strange thing will happen: this woman who can scarcely string three words together will take my hand and in a strong voice say word-perfect the prayer she said with me each night as she put me to bed, "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name . . ."’
This very old lady, who was having trouble remembering many things, could still remember the Lord’s Prayer that she had repeated so many times before her memory had started to fail and this seemed to bring her a lot of comfort.
Time to reflect.
I wonder which of those stories you like best. Turn to the person sitting next to you and quietly tell them which one and why.
Each story tells of people for whom the Lord’s Prayer was very familiar – something they had learned when they were children – and this familiarity enabled them to say it in a variety of circumstances to bring them peace, comfort and security.
It may be that one day the same prayer could bring comfort and peace to all of us. Maybe one day you will say the prayer you have learned in school when you need to find peace, comfort or security.