By: Rev. Chris Troxel, Associate Pastor of Christian Growth
If you read through Luke 11:1-13, you may read something familiar.
What does “thy” mean? Or “thou?” These are “Old English” terms: “thy” means “your”, and “thou” means “you.” Why do we still use them, in the Lord’s Prayer especially? I believe there are three reasons. One, because that is how it was taught to us, and reinforced by the believers around us, the language and rhythm of our community. Another reason we keep old language is that it honors those who passed it on. Yet this argument is a bit weaker. We don’t still pray in German, Polish, French, Greek or Aramaic, so why Old English? I believe another reason is that we think it sounds more reverent. We can certainly use any part of any language for reverence, for rote, or for irreverence, but I think the Old English terms here do bring up reverence and sentiment for some.
That’s not what Jesus was after.
Of course He did want his followers to honor and revere God, and revere, love, and cherish those around them. Language can help express that. What Jesus was after was seizing a teachable moment with his followers to teach the heart of prayer. The heart of prayer is God’s relationship with us. We are encouraged, equipped, lead, and taught to call on God’s name by the Law and the Spirit. We call on God not just because we’re supposed to, or because we should, but because He is faithful; He is a Good Father that knows how to give us the best things.
Jesus also encourages persistence. The examples Jesus uses to teach what it means to pray what we call the Lord’s Prayer demonstrate the power of continued prayer. Not to get what you want by annoying God, but rather to grow in love and trust our God who provides, even and sometimes especially in face of his answers that are painful. Praying from places of pain or pleasure teach our hearts humility and faith, which help us endure hardships, remain focused in times of comfort, and encourage those around us as God grows us through faith and habits like serving and praying. Whether you use the Old English in your prayers, your English is fully updated, or you use another language, the heart of prayer is God leading your heart to trust in Him. Why not call on His name right now? Use your own words, another Christ-centered prayer that blesses you, or use the prayer below.
Jesus, thanks. Thanks for seizing opportunities to lead us and grow us in faith. Thanks for teaching not only how to pray, but why. Because you reveal a loving Father to us, a Father who gives everything, we’re humbled by such love and grace. From lives filled with your goodness, help us to walk on in love, faith, and hope as we learn to follow You. Amen.