For the next few weeks, I will be teaching a Sunday School class on The Lord’s Prayer. I decided to do this after reading Jesus of Nazareth, by Pope Benedict XVI. He spent about 80 pages (in the large print edition) of his book on the Lord’s Prayer, and that made me think it would be good for the class to study the Lord’s Prayer in more depth.
I got a few sources to help me prepare the lesson. One source is Jesus Pattern of Prayer, by John MacArthur. I am also using the Westminster Shorter Catechism particularly Questions 98-107. This is a part of the statement of faith of Presbyterian churches worldwide. I am also peaking at Pope Benedict’s book once in a while, although I won’t be able to use it full time since it’s borrowed from the library.
So my readings for this lesson include Baptist, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic sources.
The pleasant surprise is that the three sources generally understand the Lord’s Prayer the same way, even though they represent significantly different traditions. Pope Benedict warns against the dangers of repetitive prayer, and you would never get the idea from his writing that Roman Catholics pray the Rosary. (This is a Roman practice that seriously rubs Protestants the wrong way, due to Matthew 6:7-8.) Meanwhile, MacArthur emphasizes the communal aspect of the prayer (there is no “I”, only “we”) in a way you would not expect from a tradition that is more focused on individual salvation.