Let's think about each of these things in turn. As Anglicans we are very, very good at saying the Lord's Prayer. We say the words in every formal service we have, and in some of the offices twice. So we are pretty mindful of Jesus's instructions there. We are of course saying the words in translation. Jesus would have spoken in Aramaic, the Gospel version was written in Greek, many of us were brought up with a translation in Elizabethan English, where words like temptation for example do not have the same sense as they do today, and now we use a modern English version. I think I am now on my fourth English translation, so when I open my mouth to say the Lord's Prayer I am never entirely sure which version my brain will send to my lips! And it really does not matter, so long as we keep the basic shape and intention of the prayer, which is in effect a teaching aid to all the different kinds of prayer that should form part of our relationship with God. It is like a shorthand, a mnemonic for children to help us remember the different components.
Here's a different mnemonic that perhaps you came across in confirmation class - ACTS, standing for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication or asking. The Lord's Prayer includes all of these except perhaps thanksgiving, which possibly Jesus considered to elementary for his advanced disciples?! It begins in adoration, 'hallowed be your name', and proceeds to supplication, 'your kingdom come', ' give us this day our daily bread'. Confession follows, 'forgive us our sins' and the prayer ends in praise and adoration once more. Every time of prayer and worship should include these elements, even if sometimes we concentrate on one element more than another.
So in the Lord's Prayer Jesus gave us a working template. Then there is the need to be persistent in prayer. This really is difficult you know. We all know we should pray and meditate, but the reality is that unless we make it a deliberate practice too often we find something else to do, that at the time seems so very important - meals to cook, calls to make, people to help. Keep at it Jesus says. It is all about practice, and when you fall over, just pick yourself up and try again. It is of course much easier, especially to begin with, in a group, and that is why we have for example the contemplative prayer group on a Wednesday evening, and we are about to start the group at Evie's house, of Lectio Divina or divine reading, in which we read the scriptures prayerfully in the expectation that God will speak directly to us through them.
All of us pray differently, because we all have different personalities, and God works with that. This is why it can really help to discover the breadth of ways to pray that exist, so that we can play to our strengths in our journey of prayer, but also strengthen and deepen the relationship by trying some things that do not come naturally. I talk about this in another of the little introductory videos to Praying in Anglican Ways...
There are many ways to pray. The important thing is to explore some of them every day, and with persistence and practice we find our relationship with God growing and deepening. Let's encourage one another to pray, and let's be sure that when we pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit that prayer will be answered in ways beyond our wildest dreams and expectations. Amen.
Penny Jones, for Pentecost 10 Year C, Sunday 24 July 2016