Bible study for the middle schoolers at LOGOS was on The Lord's Prayer. We began by reading it together as written in 1525—"Lett thy kyngdo come" and "Butt deliver vs from evyll." Yes, Butt, with a capital "B" even. You can imagine the (normal!) reaction.
And then we read a more recent version from Matthew and from Luke and compared the two Gospels. Luke wrote with fewer words summarizing the main points, the youth observed.
We looked at who wrote—or spoke—the prayer (Jesus) and who requested it (the disciples).
Teach us to pray, they asked.
What are we praying for when we pray this oldest of Christian prayers?
We took it apart phrase by phrase including...
"Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. On earth as it is in heaven."
I brought out a globe, spun it, and explained that this part of the prayer is our way of asking God to help us make our world as God wants it to be—like it is in heaven. And then I asked,
What would no longer exist in the world if it were as it is in heaven?
And they answered...
That's what we're praying to end. To make the world more like heaven. They got it.
"And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors."
We're asking God to forgive what we do that is wrong, I offered, and we’re also asking God to help us forgive those who do wrong to us. Which is really hard to do. They agreed.
I gave them an opportunity to share examples of having been wronged (and of struggling with forgiveness) and a couple did but more didn't. Silence is fine. Silence gave them the time to think about those who had wronged them and how it feels so hard to forgive. How it is so hard to forgive. How everyone (everyone!) deserves forgiveness. They pondered.
That's what we're praying for God to help us with. Forgive us and forgive others.
What does this ending to every prayer we pray mean?
What we have prayed, we mean, and we mean to do it. All that in one little word? Yes. They nodded.
I’m grateful to Elizabeth Windsor’s “The Lord’s Prayer in a Bag” from a Building Faith blog post to help form our conversation.
I’m grateful to middle schoolers who are full of curiosity, honesty, and wonder. And I’m grateful that they help me grow toward the same. #intergenerationalrelationships