Does Your Congregation Recite the Lord's Prayer?

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Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
Greetings beloved of the Lord,

This topic about the Lord's Prayer was brought up on the Puritan board before. Here's one from 2008, Recitation of the Lord's Prayer, but I hope that no one will mind me asking about it again.
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As the title says, does your church recite the Lord's Prayer in unison during the worship service?

Mine does and I've finally stopped participating. I spoke to one of the elders, a good friend of mine, about my ideas regarding the practice, and he said he would look into it and thanked me.

Whatever the purpose of its recitation, it certainly isn't prayer. Who on Earth could pray the first three petitions of the Lord's Prayer about the Holiness of God, the Kingdom of God, and express desire for His will to be done on Earth like the angels in heaven--all within a space of between 10 and 12 seconds. Yes, I timed it.

First of all, it seems clear to me that the Lord's Prayer was never meant to be recited word for word in a hurried way. Just compare its rendering in Luke, and you will see how much variation there is between the two.

At best, it seems to be a brain dulling, overly familiar use of a beautiful passage of scripture.

I told my Elder that it seemed either a superstition or a kind of incantation, but never a prayer.

At worst, I consider it is taking God's name in vain.

What say ye all?
 

hLuke

Puritan Board Freshman
The church I go to recites it every Sunday. I know what you mean when you say that it can be used as some kind of superstition or incantation but not a prayer-- vain babbling or some sort of duty.

But I have realised whenever it is recited together that the deeper spiritual implications come to the surface.

The realisation of the presence of God, and his holiness, leading to adoration in the opening line, the body's strong desire for Christ's return and establishment of his kingdom in the second line, the importance of relying on God for daily essentials in the third line, the need for reconciliation and repentance in the fourth line, protection from the evil one in the fifth line, and honouring his sovereignty in the last line.

I understand that reciting the prayer in this manner may not work for all but, hopefully without sounding too mystical, for me it is an enlightening spiritual experience by which, with fellow brothers and sisters, we can draw near to God in heartfelt and humble confession. And yes all of this is experienced within 15 seconds.

So I believe it is about the heart and the deeper implications of the verse as much as it is about reciting it as a part of scripture, which makes it a worthy part of church service.
 

kodos

Puritan Board Junior
No. Do not recite the Lord's Prayer in worship. That is neither its purpose, nor its use in worship. If the minister wants to pray it as it is meant to be prayed, then use it in the service and pray as the minister leads. It can be used as a prayer itself. It is not only a pattern. But not meant for congregational recitation, which also has other implications concerning the RPW and Liberty of Conscience.

See how the Catechism instructs the use of the prayer:
LC Q. 187. How is the Lord’s prayer to be used?​
A. The Lord’s prayer is not only for direction, as a pattern, according to which we are to make our prayers; but may also be used as a prayer, so that it be done with understanding, faith, reverence, and other graces necessary to the right performance of the duty of prayer.​

It is a beautiful prayer. I preached on it and its six petitions and it deepened and heightened my view of prayer and the right rank of the things we pray for.
 
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hLuke

Puritan Board Freshman
No. Do not recite the Lord's Prayer in worship. That is neither its purpose, nor its use in worship. If the minister wants to pray it as it is meant to be prayed, then use it in the service and pray as the minister leads. It can be used as a prayer itself. It is not only a pattern. But not meant for congregational recitation, which also has other implications concerning the RPW and Liberty of Conscience.

See how the Catechism instructs the use of the prayer:
LC Q. 187. How is the Lord’s prayer to be used?​
A. The Lord’s prayer is not only for direction, as a pattern, according to which we are to make our prayers; but may also be used as a prayer, so that it be done with understanding, faith, reverence, and other graces necessary to the right performance of the duty of prayer.​

It is a beautiful prayer. I preached on it and its six petitions and it deepened and heightened my view of prayer and the right rank of the things we pray for.
I respectfully disagree. It is a part of scripture. What makes reciting the Lord's prayer in worship different from reciting John 3.16 in worship?
 

kodos

Puritan Board Junior
I respectfully disagree. It is a part of scripture. What makes reciting the Lord's prayer in worship different from reciting John 3.16 in worship?

We do not recite Scripture congregationally in public worship. We are Presbyterians, you appear to be Anglican from your signature. We are guided by the RPW. And do not see congregational recitation of Scripture as an element of worship which is laid out for us in our Confession of Faith, Chapter 21 (prayer is covered in paragraph III and IV). The fifth paragraph lists the other elements (or parts) of worship as we understand the Bible to teach it.

V. The reading of the scriptures with godly fear; the sound preaching, and conscionable hearing of the word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence: singing of psalms with grace in the heart; as also the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ; are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God: besides religious oaths and vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon special occasions, which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in a holy and religious manner.​

And the reading of the Word is limited to officers as per our Larger Catechism Q. 156:
Q. 156. Is the word of God to be read by all?​
A. Although all are not to be permitted to read the word publicly to the congregation, yet all sorts of people are bound to read it apart by themselves, and with their families​

As Ed is a Presbyterian, he should be guided by these principles. I believe, wholeheartedly, that these are Biblical principles and not just Presbyterian. But I just mention that as to why we disagree on recitation of the Scripture by the congregation as not being an element (or part) of the worship service. Now, some Presbyterians have moved to a more Anglican position on this kind of thing. But "stricter" Presbyterians do not.

Anyhow - I hope you can see the disconnect, brother. Whether you agree or not! Blessings!
 

hLuke

Puritan Board Freshman
We do not recite Scripture congregationally in public worship. We are Presbyterians, you appear to be Anglican from your signature. We are guided by the RPW. And do not see congregational recitation of Scripture as an element of worship which is laid out for us in our Confession of Faith, Chapter 21 (prayer is covered in paragraph III and IV). The fifth paragraph lists the other elements (or parts) of worship as we understand the Bible to teach it.

V. The reading of the scriptures with godly fear; the sound preaching, and conscionable hearing of the word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence: singing of psalms with grace in the heart; as also the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ; are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God: besides religious oaths and vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon special occasions, which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in a holy and religious manner.​

And the reading of the Word is limited to officers as per our Larger Catechism Q. 156:
Q. 156. Is the word of God to be read by all?​
A. Although all are not to be permitted to read the word publicly to the congregation, yet all sorts of people are bound to read it apart by themselves, and with their families​

As Ed is a Presbyterian, he should be guided by these principles. I believe, wholeheartedly, that these are Biblical principles and not just Presbyterian. But I just mention that as to why we disagree on recitation of the Scripture by the congregation as not being an element (or part) of the worship service. Now, some Presbyterians have moved to a more Anglican position on this kind of thing. But "stricter" Presbyterians do not.

Anyhow - I hope you can see the disconnect, brother. Whether you agree or not! Blessings!
Thanks Rom. I can see the disconnect. To be honest, I'm battling with my conscience and emotions at the moment. On the one hand I respect the principles laid down in the respective church doctrine, but on the other hand I perceive the issue of prohibiting certain things such as reciting scripture allowed in unison to be leaning towards legalism-- my emotions (which are utterly unreliable) are screaming that there should not be such division in a simple matter like reciting scripture together as brothers and sisters in Christ. Surely, for examplereciting the psalms in unison as a form of prayer is permissible!
Peace with you,
Hayden
 

jw

Administrator
We pray it together at the conclusion of the Pastor’s prayer (wherein he expands upon the petitions’ a la the Larger Catechism’s helpful guidance). As with anything, it certainly could be superstitious or mindless droning, but that has more to do with the pray-er‘s heart than the Lord’s provided word. From Luke 11:

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, OUR…

Some of us “stricter” Presbyterians aren’t doing it out of some penchant for Anglicanism, but out of a principle in Scripture. ”When y’all pray, y’all say, Our Father…” Not, when thou prayest, thou shouldst say, “My Father.” No word of man is put Into the people’s mouths in the service, only the Word of God, whether it be a declaration of the terms of communion with the Lord (as summarized in the Ten Commandments), or in prayer, or in praise (the Psalms). The preacher alone has leave (and thereby will also give an account for one day) to contemporaneous speech in the worship service, according to the principles of preaching. To this, the congregation may give or withhold an Amen, but they may not be compelled, nor may they arrogate to themselves, the action of expressing anything not from the scriptures, nor from a place of official capacity.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
I respectfully disagree. It is a part of scripture. What makes reciting the Lord's prayer in worship different from reciting John 3.16 in worship?

Hi Hayden,

I guess there is a side of me that agrees with both you and @kodos -- I often use the Lord's Prayer as an outline for my prayers. I think the shortest time I've spent going through it has been as little as ten minutes, while other times I get no farther than "Thy Kingdom Come," and spend as much as an hour and never complete the pryer.

What I am really against is its proneness to become a thoughtless ritual. I just can't pray that fast.

But about your John 3:16 verse as no different than the Lord's Prayer, I think I disagree. The verse in John is in no way a form of prayer, while many consider Matthew 6 as a form of prayer.

I attached a balanced paper titled, “After this manner, therefore, pray ye”: Puritan Perspectives on the Lord’s Prayer."
I found it helpful.

Ed
 

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kodos

Puritan Board Junior
We pray it together at the conclusion of the Pastor’s prayer (wherein he expands upon the petitions’ a la the Larger Catechism’s helpful guidance). As with anything, it certainly could be superstitious or mindless droning, but that has more to do with the pray-er‘s heart than the Lord’s provided word. From Luke 11:

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, OUR…

Some of us “stricter” Presbyterians aren’t doing it out of some penchant for Anglicanism, but out of a principle in Scripture. ”When y’all pray, y’all say, Our Father…” Not, when thou prayest, thou shouldst say, “My Father.” No word of man is put Into the people’s mouths in the service, only the Word of God, whether it be a declaration of the terms of communion with the Lord (as summarized in the Ten Commandments), or in prayer, or in praise (the Psalms). The preacher alone has leave (and thereby will also give an account for one day) to contemporaneous speech in the worship service, according to the principles of preaching. To this, the congregation may give or withhold an Amen, but they may not be compelled, nor may they arrogate to themselves, the action of expressing anything not from the scriptures, nor from a place of official capacity.

The congregational speaks out loud the Lord's prayer together? How does this square with the Westminster Directory for Publick Worship?
Or do you mean you pray it together when you say the Amen?

Sorry for the confusion, I cannot seem to parse in my mind what you are saying (which is likely on me).

But the broader point in my response to the inquirer was this - we do not see the congregational recitation of Scripture as a part of the Public Worship of God. Which, I think we both agree on.
 
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hLuke

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi Hayden,

I guess there is a side of me that agrees with both you and @kodos -- I often use the Lord's Prayer as an outline for my prayers. I think the shortest time I've spent going through it has been as little as ten minutes, while other times I get no farther than "Thy Kingdom Come," and spend as much as an hour and never complete the pryer.

What I am really against is its proneness to become a thoughtless ritual. I just can't pray that fast.

But about your John 3:16 verse as no different than the Lord's Prayer, I think I disagree. The verse in John is in no way a form of prayer, while many consider Matthew 6 as a form of prayer.

I attached a balanced paper titled, “After this manner, therefore, pray ye”: Puritan Perspectives on the Lord’s Prayer."
I found it helpful.

Ed
Ed, thank you for sharing that PDF. Instead of John 3.16 I think I could've used a better example. Psalm 23for example if that was recited the same way as Lord's Prayer I guess would have more similar implications.

Hayden
 

jw

Administrator
We pray in unison the Lord‘s prayer at the end of Pastoral prayer, and conclude with the corporate Amen. As for that & Directory for Publick Worship I am not seeing a contradiction, unless the direction for the minister to pray implies a prohibition of anything more. I’d defer to my pastor to answer such. We’re not quite Scots to the hilt, one might say. We even have a few lines repeated in the congregational Psalms & frequently observe the Lord’s Supper (usually every Lord’s Day).
 

hLuke

Puritan Board Freshman
We pray it together at the conclusion of the Pastor’s prayer (wherein he expands upon the petitions’ a la the Larger Catechism’s helpful guidance). As with anything, it certainly could be superstitious or mindless droning, but that has more to do with the pray-er‘s heart than the Lord’s provided word. From Luke 11:

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, OUR…

Some of us “stricter” Presbyterians aren’t doing it out of some penchant for Anglicanism, but out of a principle in Scripture. ”When y’all pray, y’all say, Our Father…” Not, when thou prayest, thou shouldst say, “My Father.” No word of man is put Into the people’s mouths in the service, only the Word of God, whether it be a declaration of the terms of communion with the Lord (as summarized in the Ten Commandments), or in prayer, or in praise (the Psalms). The preacher alone has leave (and thereby will also give an account for one day) to contemporaneous speech in the worship service, according to the principles of preaching. To this, the congregation may give or withhold an Amen, but they may not be compelled, nor may they arrogate to themselves, the action of expressing anything not from the scriptures, nor from a place of official capacity.
He is my Jesus, and can it be that I should gain, for he doth prosper thy (my) work and defend thee (me).
 

Morgan

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for posting that paper Ed, it was a good read on the topic. Personally, I do not like repeating anything week after week - it will become routine and eventually very few will pay any attention to what is being said. I also feel that we become like the papists, just blindly repeating what they are told. I guess I lean toward Bunyan and Flavel in the paper you posted.
 

kodos

Puritan Board Junior
We pray in unison the Lord‘s prayer at the end of Pastoral prayer, and conclude with the corporate Amen. As for that & Directory for Publick Worship I am not seeing a contradiction, unless the direction for the minister to pray implies a prohibition of anything more. I’d defer to my pastor to answer such. We’re not quite Scots to the hilt, one might say. We even have a few lines repeated in the congregational Psalms & frequently observe the Lord’s Supper (usually every Lord’s Day).

Thanks, helpful to understand the apparent divergence. May the Lord bless your Sabbath as well as to all posters on this thread. I will have to duck out, but I pray this continues to be a helpful discussion for Christ's Church. Blessings!
 

jw

Administrator
Thanks, helpful to understand the apparent divergence. May the Lord bless your Sabbath as well as to all posters on this thread. I will have to duck out, but I pray this continues to be a helpful discussion for Christ's Church. Blessings!
Thank you. God speed to all the saints at DRPC(NA).
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
Personally, I do not like repeating anything week after week - it will become routine and eventually very few will pay any attention to what is being said. I also feel that we become like the papists, just blindly repeating what they are told.
This is not a sound argument. For one thing, I could argue both of these points against any element of worship. Should we stop preaching every week because it might become routine? Should we stop letting the pastor offer a pastoral prayer every week because it might become routine? Should we stop having church itself every week because it might become routine? I can assure you, there are people in your congregation and mine for whom the various elements of worship, and even the Lord's Day itself, has become routine. As Josh noted above, the fault lies with them, not with worship. As for the "we become like papists" bit, surely you can agree that not everything the papists do is wrong. After all, the papists meet for worship on the Lord's Day every week; the papists pray during worship; the papists ask forgiveness of sins in their prayers. And "blindly repeating what we are told" is not unique to papism, but is common to unbelief in all traditions.
 

Morgan

Puritan Board Freshman
This is not a sound argument. For one thing, I could argue both of these points against any element of worship. Should we stop preaching every week because it might become routine? Should we stop letting the pastor offer a pastoral prayer every week because it might become routine? Should we stop having church itself every week because it might become routine? I can assure you, there are people in your congregation and mine for whom the various elements of worship, and even the Lord's Day itself, has become routine. As Josh noted above, the fault lies with them, not with worship. As for the "we become like papists" bit, surely you can agree that not everything the papists do is wrong. After all, the papists meet for worship on the Lord's Day every week; the papists pray during worship; the papists ask forgiveness of sins in their prayers. And "blindly repeating what we are told" is not unique to papism, but is common to unbelief in all traditions.
There is a big difference in repeating the exact same words, over and over, week after week versus preaching through the same scriptures week after week. The same goes for prayer, I am not sure how you are making that a sound argument, I see no similarity in those two things. As for your comment on "not everything the papists do is wrong", I am certain you can find something that could be passed off as correct in every heretical religion. That does not make me want to imitate nor appear like them.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
There is a big difference in repeating the exact same words, over and over, week after week versus preaching through the same scriptures week after week.
There is, but then again, there isn't. The words may be different, but the act is the same every week. The point is this: The misuse or abuse of a thing is not an argument against that thing.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
We pray in unison the Lord‘s prayer at the end of Pastoral prayer, and conclude with the corporate Amen. As for that & Directory for Publick Worship I am not seeing a contradiction, unless the direction for the minister to pray implies a prohibition of anything more. I’d defer to my pastor to answer such. We’re not quite Scots to the hilt, one might say. We even have a few lines repeated in the congregational Psalms & frequently observe the Lord’s Supper (usually every Lord’s Day).
You may not be Scots in this regard, but you are exactly in line with the Westminster Directory, which says:

"THE communion, or supper of the Lord, is frequently to be celebrated..."
 

jw

Administrator
You may not be Scots in this regard, but you are exactly in line with the Westminster Directory, which says:

"THE communion, or supper of the Lord, is frequently to be celebrated..."
Yessir. That was a bit tongue-in-cheek on my part (in a brotherly ribbing type of way) toward my communion season brethren wherever they are (though I freely confess frequency is relative).
 

Morgan

Puritan Board Freshman
There is, but then again, there isn't. The words may be different, but the act is the same every week. The point is this: The misuse or abuse of a thing is not an argument against that thing.
I think the paper Ed posted covers it well so I will leave it at that.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
Yessir. That was a bit tongue-in-cheek on my part (in a brotherly ribbing type of way) toward my communion season brethren wherever they are (though I freely confess frequency is relative).
This is a tremendously important and often overlooked aspect of the Westminster Assembly understanding of the RPW. They allowed quite a bit of latitude for churches in how they worked out the practice of Biblical Worship. That's why they produced a "Directory of Worship" and not a "Book of Common Prayer". Their goal was to provide ministers with "help and furniture" not a rigid pattern for everyone to follow.

However, I have a hard time seeing how annual communion can be seen as celebrating the Lord's Supper "frequently". Rather the exception that the Directory permits ("When this sacrament cannot with convenience be celebrated frequently...") has become the norm in some places. The pastoral wisdom of the Directory is clear in allowing that not everyone can do weekly communion, especially in situations like 17th century Scotland where ordained ministers were not in great supply (many parishes had non-ordained "readers", especially in more rural areas). But the Westminster goal is clearly weekly communion, and they seem to have had no overriding concern about that becoming merely "rote".
 

jw

Administrator
I am right there with you on the Lord’s Supper frequency, Brother Duguid. As charitably as I may put it, I am unable to wrap my mind around communion seasons, and -it seems- a strong push for members to gather on days that are not the Lord’s Day (again, beyond a necessity requiring such need). I am not informed enough to know if the Assembly was desirous for the churches all to do weekly, but I think there’s a strong implication for it scripturally, especially in accordance with the weekly sabbath gathering cadence.
 

kodos

Puritan Board Junior
From the 1646 Westminster Directory for the Publick Worship of God:

And because the prayer which Christ taught his disciples is not only a pattern of prayer, but itself a most comprehensive prayer, we recommend it also to be used in the prayers of the church.

(from the section on prayer after the sermon; see https://thewestminsterstandard.org/directory-for-the-publick-worship-of-god)

The question is not whether the prayer is to be used, but rather whether the congregation should audibly pray with the minister. The Directory emphasizes the minister's part in that section. "...every minister is herein to apply himself in his prayer".
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
I am right there with you on the Lord’s Supper frequency, Brother Duguid. As charitably as I may put it, I am unable to wrap my mind around communion seasons, and -it seems- a strong push for members to gather on days that are not the Lord’s Day (again, beyond a necessity requiring such need). I am not informed enough to know if the Assembly was desirous for the churches all to do weekly, but I think there’s a strong implication for it scripturally, especially in accordance with the weekly sabbath gathering cadence.
Here's the full paragraph from the section on the Lord's Supper

Where this sacrament cannot with convenience be frequently administered, it is requisite that publick warning be given the sabbath-day before the administration thereof: and that either then, or on some day of that week, something concerning that ordinance, and the due preparation thereunto, and participation thereof, be taught; that, by the diligent use of all means sanctified of God to that end, both in publick and private, all may come better prepared to that heavenly feast.

You can see how this allowed exception grows into a Communion Season, but the underlying assumption is that if you have weekly communion, everyone knows to come prepared every Sunday.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
The question is not whether the prayer is to be used, but rather whether the congregation should audibly pray with the minister. The Directory emphasizes the minister's part in that section. "...every minister is herein to apply himself in his prayer".
You are correct in this; some of the other posts, however, had questioned any regular use of the Lord's Prayer in worship. It's good to be clear about what the Westminster Directory says on the subject.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
The question is not whether the prayer is to be used, but rather whether the congregation should audibly pray with the minister. The Directory emphasizes the minister's part in that section. "...every minister is herein to apply himself in his prayer".
Sincere question:

I understand that this section of the Directory has to do with ministers, but is there significance in the fact that it recommends the Lord’s Prayer to be used in the prayers of the “church,” rather than the prayers of the “minister”? Again, I’m asking sincerely for understanding.
 

kodos

Puritan Board Junior
Sincere question:

I understand that this section of the Directory has to do with ministers, but is there significance in the fact that it recommends the Lord’s Prayer to be used in the prayers of the “church,” rather than the prayers of the “minister”? Again, I’m asking sincerely for understanding.

As a corporate prayer, the prayers of the minister become the prayers of the church. For in corporate prayer we are to pray along with the minister as he leads. That is why the language of the Lord's prayer is corporate "give us", etc. That would be my understanding of what the Directory means. It also says the Lord's Prayer is also to be used in the prayers of the church. Meaning that other prayers are also the prayers of the church. All the minister's public prayers are the church's prayers as well. That is my understanding. I hope it is helpful even if you disagree.
 
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