Sunday. July 24, 2022
The Lord’s Prayer
The Rev. Mark D. Wilkinson, Rector
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Katy TX 77493
July 24, 2022
I encountered the basic script for this at the Canterbury Campus Ministry program in Nofolk Virginia many years ago. I have updated the script and then added a closing commentary. You can find the basic script online in multiple locations. The person praying is in black, God’s responses are in red. The thoughts after the skit are my reflections.
Have you ever wondered or thought about what the Lord’s Prayer really says. What would happen if God interrupted your prayer? Let’s find out.
Person praying: Our Father Who art in Heaven. . .
Don’t interrupt me. I’m praying.
But – you called ME!
Called you? No I didn’t call you. I’m praying.
Our Father Who art in Heaven. . .
There – you did it again!
Called ME. You said, Our Father Who art in Heaven. . .
Well, here I am. What’s on your mind?
But I didn’t mean anything by it. I was, you know, just saying my prayers for the day. I always say the Lord’s Prayer. It makes me feel good, kind of like fulfilling a duty.
Well alright, go on.
Okay, Hallowed be thy name.
Hold it right there. What do you mean by that?
By Hallowed be thy name?
It means, it means. . . good grief, I don’t’ know what it means. How in the world should I know? Its just a part of the prayer. By the way, what does it mean?
It means honored, holy, wonderful.
Okay, that makes sense. I never thought about what hallowed meant before. Thanks. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.
Do you really mean that?
Sure, why not?
What are you doing about it?
Doing? It’s your Kingdom. I’m not doing anything about it, just asking you to make it come. I think it would be good if you got control of everything down here, like you have up there in Heaven. We’re kind in in a mess down here you know.
Yes, I know; but, have I got control of you?
Well, I go to church.
That isn’t what I asked you. What about your temper? You’ve really got a problem there, you know. And then there’s the way you spend your money. Everything is about you. What have you done for others recently? Then there is how you treat other people.
Now hold on just a minute! Stop picking on me! I’m just as good as the rest of those people at church! I need those things, I’m helping our economy.
Excuse ME. I thought you were praying for my will to be done. If that is to happen, it will have to start with the ones who are praying for it. Like you – for example.
Oh, all right. I guess I do have some hang–ups.
Now that you mention it, I could probably name some others.
So could I.
I haven’t thought about it very much until now, but I really would like to change some of those things. I would like to, you know, be really free, to really love my neighbor. My Priest keeps telling us how being in relationship with You will make us free to be truly ourselves. So yes, I want to change and listen to how you want me to live.
Good! Now we’re getting somewhere. We’ll work together – You and ME.
I’m proud of You.
Look Lord, if you don’t mind, I need to finish up here. This is taking a lot longer than it usually does. Give us this day, our daily bread.
About the bread, you might want to go easy on that, you’re on a diet after all.
Hey, wait a minute! What is this? Here I am doing my religious duty, and all of a sudden you break in and remind me of all my hang-ups.
Praying is a dangerous thing. You just might get what you ask for. Remember, you called ME – and here I am. It’s too late to stop now. Keep praying. (Pause)
Well go on.
I’m scared to.
Scared? Of what?
I know what you’ll say.
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sins against us.
What about Bob?
See? I knew it! Why Lord, he’s told lies about me, spread stories. And he never paid back the money he owes me. I’m going to get even with him!
But – your prayer – What about your prayer?
I didn’t – mean it.
Well, at least you’re honest. But, it’s quite a load carrying around all that bitterness and resentment isn’t it?
Oh probably, but I’ll feel better as soon as I get even with him. Boy, have I got some plans for him. He’ll really regret that he messed with me!
No, you won’t feel any better. You’ll feel worse. Revenge isn’t sweet. You know how unhappy you are – well, I can change that.
You can? How?
Forgive Bob. Then, I’ll forgive you; and the hate and the sin, will be Bob’s problem – not yours. You will have settled the problem as far as you are concerned.
You’re sure? Can I really trust you on this? You’re forgive me, just like that, no strings attached? All I have to do to get rid of this weight is to forgive Bob? I want revenge, but I also want to be right with You. . . (sigh).
All right, all right, let me think about this a minute. (Pause)
God, I forgive Bob for hurting me.
There now. Wonderful! How do you feel?
Hmmmm. Well, not bad. Not bad at all! In fact, I feel pretty good! My stomach doesn’t hurt anymore! You know, I don’t think I’ll go to bed uptight tonight. I haven’t been getting much rest, you know.
Yeah, I know. But, you’re not through with your prayer are you? Go on.
Oh, all right. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Good, Good! I’ll do that. Just don’t put yourself in a place where you can be tempted.
What do you mean by that?
You know what I mean.
Yeah, I know.
Okay! Go ahead, finish your prayer.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
Do you know what would bring me glory – what would really make me happy?
No, but I‘d like to know. I want to be closer to you. I’ve really made a mess of things. I want to truly follow you. I want to help bring your kingdom on earth. So, tell me . . . How do I make you happy?
You just did. I always have and always will love you. The start we made today brings me great joy.
One of the problems with set prayers like we use so often in our worship is that we don’t really think about what we are saying. There is great comfort in those familiar words, yet sometimes we miss what is there. That is why we change Eucharistic prayers and prayers of the people during different season.
One of the problems with the person in this dialogue is that her approach was one of God as the great wishing well. Write your prayer, toss it in and then walk away. All of the expectation is that God will take care of everything and that we have no responsibility to listen to what God might ask of us. This is the theme that developed in the later parts of this little dialogue. And prayer is always a dialogue.
Another problem is to look at prayer as a duty, something to be checked off like coming to church on Sunday, paying our pledge to the parish, doing good works.. Works that flow from love of God will change the world because they change us first. For that to happen we must engage God in conversation.
Prayer is conversation with God and we must be ready to listen to what God asks of us. We must be open to those moments when God places before us the chance, the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ in this world. God does not bring changes without our help. That is not how God works nor is it how God expects us to respond. Mostly our prayer needs to be about us and how God wants us to respond.
Just the other day I was talking with someone and I asked, do you spend any time in prayer when you aren’t bombarding God with words? It is hard to listen if we don’t stop talking. That’s where some of the meditative aspects of prayer are helpful.
Wendy came across a Jesuit Serenity Prayer and I want to close with this prayer. Notice as you hear this where the focus is. Let us pray:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, which is pretty much everyone, since I’m clearly not you, God.
At least not the last time I checked.
And while you’re at it, God, please give me the courage to change what I need to change about myself, which is frankly a lot, since, once again, I’m not you, which means I’m not perfect.
It’s better for me to focus on changing myself than to worry about changing other people, who, as you’ll no doubt remember me saying, I can’t change anyway.
Finally, give me the wisdom to just shut up whenever I think that I’m clearly smarter than everyone else in the room, that no one knows what they’re talking about except me, or that I alone have all the answers.
Basically, God, grant me the wisdom to remember that I’m not you. Amen