The Lord’s Prayer
What does the Lord’s Prayer mean to different people?
by Alison Thurlow
Suitable for Key Stage 2 - Church Schools
To examine what the Lord’s Prayer means to different people.
Preparation and materials
- You will need the following images and the means to show them during the assembly:
- John Mahony, at: http://tinyurl.com/qfawlzv
- a First World War soldier, at: http://tinyurl.com/onpudgm
- Rob Parsons, at: http://tinyurl.com/o5vgb2x
- You may like to have the images of the words of the Lord's Prayer that can be found at: www.slideshare.net/bristolcyp/the-lords-prayer-traditional to show, too, but these are optional.
- During this assembly, we will be looking at the Lord’s Prayer - the special prayer that Jesus taught his disciples, the words of which can be found in the New Testament part of the Bible. In particular, we are going to be thinking about what the Lord’s Prayer has meant to different people.
- First, though, I would like to hear some of your ideas about prayer. I would like you to now turn to the person next to you and have a go at answering the following questions.
- What does the word ‘prayer’ mean?
- What kinds of things can we say in a prayer?
- Is it better to read out a prayer from a book or make up your own prayer?
- When might you say a prayer?
Listen to a range of answers.
- The Lord’s Prayer was written nearly 2000 years ago, but people all over the world still say it in churches every Sunday and in schools and in their homes. I thought it would be interesting to find out why this old prayer is still so important for people today, so I managed to find three short accounts of times when the Lord’s Prayer was especially important to different people.
- Show the image of John Mahony.
On 11 September 2001, John Mahony, a retired US Army lieutenant colonel, was working on the nineteenth floor of a huge building in New York called the World Trade Center when, suddenly, the building jerked hard, throwing everyone off balance. At first he thought it was an earthquake, though his army training told him it was something else that had caused the problem.
Use your discretion as to how much information you give about the events of 9/11as some children will find this frightening and greater detail is not needed for this assembly.
John and those working near him needed to get out of the building as quickly as possible, so they headed down a smoke-filled staircase. Surrounded by frightened people and wondering if he was going to survive, John just kept saying the words of the Lord’s Prayer over and over again.
John was used to saying the Lord's Prayer every day and saying it on this particular day seemed to provide him with stability. John later said, ‘In that smoky, wet stairway, in a burning building, surrounded by a thousand frightened people, I felt wonder. I felt God's peace and I knew that, regardless of the physical outcome, everything would be all right.’
For John, reciting the Lord’s Prayer on the most difficult day of his life helped him and gave him a great sense of God’s peace.
- Show the image of the First World War soldier.
Research for the 100th anniversary of the First World War last year revealed that many soldiers in their diaries and letters home said they valued the words of the Bible. Many said that scriptural prayers such as the Lord’s Prayer or psalms could provide morale-boosting words before going 'over the top' into battle. They could be a source of comfort when a friend died.
Many of the soldiers who fought in the First World War knew the Lord’s Prayer by heart and would recite it when life on the battlefield was frightening, difficult or disturbing. A bit like John Mahony, saying the Lord’s Prayer during the most difficult times of their lives helped them – it seemed to bring them comfort.
- Show the image of Rob Parsons.
Rob Parsons is a well-known Christian author who has written several books about family life. In one of these books, he describes going to visit his mother, who was in her nineties and lived in a nursing home. She had been a very active lady, but at that time she couldn’t remember many things and was often a little confused. There was one thing she could always remember, though. Listen to these words from one of Rob’s books:
'And then I will tuck the bedclothes in around her, and straighten the top sheet, bend to kiss her and say, "Shall we say prayers?" And then a strange thing will happen: this woman who can scarcely string three words together will take my hand and in a strong voice say word-perfect the prayer she said with me each night as she put me to bed, "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name . . ."’
This very old lady, who was having trouble remembering many things, could still remember the Lord’s Prayer that she had repeated so many times before her memory had started to fail and this seemed to bring her a lot of comfort.
Time for reflection
I wonder which of those stories you like best. Turn to the person sitting next to you and quietly tell them which one and why.
You may like to tell the children which story you like best and why.
Each story tells of people for whom the Lord’s Prayer was very familiar – something they had learned when they were children – and this familiarity enabled them to say it in a variety of circumstances to bring them peace, comfort and security.
It may be that one day the same prayer could bring comfort and peace to all of us. Maybe one day you will say the prayer you have learned in school when you need to find peace, comfort or security.
Say the Lord's Prayer, encouraging the children to say or read the words with you and think about them as they say each line.
‘May God’s blessing be upon you now’ (Kids Praise Party 3, Spring Harvest, 2008)
'The Lord’s Prayer' (Come and Praise, 51)