A Lenten Journey based on the Lord’s Prayer.
More Than Words – Living What We Pray (PDF)
The season of Lent is designed to be a journey of transformation. As Jesus entered the wilderness for a time of soul-searching, testing, and preparation for ministry, so we enter a metaphorical wilderness to learn to live according to his values and priorities. Prayer was a significant feature of Jesus’ life, and so we assume that he spent much of his retreat in prayer. And that’s why it is appropriate to use this season to explore in greater depth the prayer that Jesus taught soon after he had come out of the wilderness.
But in this time of global pandemic, we have learned that prayer needs to change. And in this Lenten Series, MORE THAN WORDS – Living What We Pray, we will be challenged not just to say more prayers or say better prayers, but to live what we pray. Done well, this journey can transform prayer from something we say to something we become. In each chapter we explore one line of the Lord’s Prayer, seeking to understand its meaning, and then learning to put our prayer into practice in our daily lives. My hope is that this will not only transform our prayer lives, but that it will transform us to be people who embody the Reign of God that Jesus proclaimed.
MORE THAN WORDS contains everything you need to create meaningful, interactive worship experiences for the Lenten season. It is based on the Lord’s Prayer and can easily be adapted for in-person or online, video-based worship. It includes gathering rituals, prayers, sermon starters, responding rituals, sending moments, and practices to help with integrating the worship experience into our daily lives.
NOTE: Although MORE THAN WORDS is designed to be a Lenten journey, it can easily be adapted for use at any time of the year.
Here is a quick overview of the Chapters in MORE THAN WORDS – Living What We Pray:
Chapter One (Ash Wednesday): Oh God…
If the global pandemic of the last year has not challenged how we think about prayer then we haven’t been paying attention. Traditionally, prayer is defined as ‘talking to God’. For most believers, this takes the form of asking God to intervene in their lives in some way. COVID-19 has shown us that our traditional views of prayer are inadequate for the complexity of our world. If we see God as a Supreme Being sitting outside of the world in some distant heaven, swooping in to intervene if enough people ask with enough passion, then we will struggle to make sense of the pandemic. But there has to be a better way to think of prayer…
Chapter Two (Lent 1): Wow!
As we navigate this very challenging time in history, it is easy to feel that there is little place for awe. Pessimism, cynicism, and despair feel far more appropriate. We may worry that if we open ourselves too much to wonder, joy, and amazement, we become gullible and can easily be taken in by fake news and conspiracy theories. We feel certain that what we need now is sober judgement and an attitude of healthy suspicion. But I am convinced that it is exactly in times like this that we need a healthy capacity for awe to sustain us and inspire us…
The focus of this chapter is on: “Our Father who is in heaven, uphold the holiness of your name.”
Chapter Three (Lent 2): If Only
We can’t help but imagine a better life and a better world. Colonisation, immigration, space travel, protest movements, art —most of these things, if not all, are about the quest for a better society in which we can all live fuller and more meaningful lives. If we look within our hearts we will find that every one of us has a heartfelt “If only…”—a deep longing for things to be different, to be better…
The focus of this chapter is on: “Bring in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven.”
Chapter Four (Lent 3): Thanks
I suspect that Jesus meant this prayer less as a request for God to meet our needs and more as a lesson in thanksgiving and generosity. In the last chapter we spoke of our longing for a world of justice and love. If we want to get closer to that reality, we need to be honest about our true needs and thankful for what we have…
The focus of this chapter is on: “Give us the bread we need for today.”
Chapter Five (Lent 4): Sorry
When we are unable to apologise, we inevitably impose an unhealthy perfectionism on ourselves and others. It’s not just that we can’t admit mistakes. It’s that we have to try not to make mistakes in the first place. And when we fail to meet our standards of perfection, we are compelled to deny any responsibility or fault. That’s not a healthy way to live. In contrast, when we get comfortable with apologies we break free from this dynamic. There is great joy and liberation in knowing that we do not have to be perfect, that making a mess is an integral part of learning, growing, and living…
The focus of this chapter is on: “Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, just as we also forgive those who have wronged us.”
Chapter Six (Lent 5): Help
Jesus viewed temptation and evil differently from how we do in religious circles today. His prayer addresses the things that keep us from being more compassionate and connected. It teaches us to seek help in overcoming our lack of empathy, our refusal to consider the perspectives of others, and our self-centredness and self-protectiveness. Temptation in this context refers to the brokenness within us. Evil refers to the brokenness around us. Both keep us from our best lives and prevent us from contributing to a healthier world. Jesus included these words in his prayer because we need to be intentional about overcoming our brokenness, pain, and weakness. And we need help if we are to contribute to wholeness and unity…
The focus of this chapter is on: “And don’t lead us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.”