October / November 2019 - Vol.106

 people holding
                  crosses together in prayer
The Disciples’ Prayer
by Bob Tedesco

Over the years there have been enough discussions about whether it’s the Lord’s Prayer or the disciples’ prayer. I am not sure how the ancient Aramaic would have translated; but in English, all the pronouns are presented as plural, and that implies something corporate. It also seems to invite praying it together. Jesus created the prayer, and in that sense, it is his. But the words he used are more appropriate for the disciples, hence the title of this article…which supports the focus of this book. However, reigniting this discussion is not the purpose of this article, and we will call it the Lord’s Prayer in deference to Christian tradition.

It is also worth noting that as a rote prayer it takes about twenty seconds to recite and maybe two or three minutes to sing. It seems strange that a request, “Lord teach us to pray”, would be answered with a twenty second prayer or a three-minute song. These men had watched Jesus go off alone in order to pray for long hours or perhaps even overnight. It seems as though he got energy, inspiration and insight for the next day’s work from the time spent with his Father in prayer. It’s probably the case that the disciples wanted that result from prayer, but they did not know how to go about it. As we examine it we find some interesting points to ponder…

The prayer can be seen in two parts: part number one has a focus on the Lord and part number two addresses our needs and concerns. So, God and man…a pattern seen in the Ten Commandments. *
*[And in the Two Great Commandments - Matthew 22:37-40]

The prayer can also be seen as a set of seven petitions: three addressing our relationship with the Lord and four which address our relationship with the Body of Christ, the church. Another interesting point is that many of the phrases can have similarities seen in traditional Jewish prayers. For example, “Our Father, who art in heaven” is a common phrase at the beginning of Hebrew prayers.1

There are types of prayer (petition, thanksgiving, praise, etc.) and also levels of prayer (rote, spontaneous, meditation, contemplative, etc.)  The prayer given to the disciples by Jesus has elements of special concern to a disciple: ushering in God’s kingdom where the will of God will be accomplished; being forgiving, free from the influence of the enemy and deliverance from the evil one. Also, we’d like to be reasonably fed while we’re doing the work! The approach below blends hallowing the name(s) of God with the needs of the disciples as they labor. For example, “The Lord is my Healer” recognizes who he is, what he does and how we need his healing.

Many Christian teachers have presented the Lord’s Prayer as a set of topics to be covered in prayer. One such teacher, Pastor Bob Wilhite, has noted that it was a common practice for rabbis to present a collection of topics to be addressed in prayer. It may have been a practice necessitated by the shortage and expense of writing material…papyrus, ink, etc.  Pastor Wilhite had developed a very complete approach to praying the “Our Father” and much of the following
material is inspired or leans heavily on his work. The main thing is that we will separate the prayer topically and suggest ways to pray the topics. They are easily expanded or contracted as needed for the individual. As topics, they can be prayed throughout the day or at a single prayer time. They are even suitable for praying while covering a long drive to work, or while enduring a lengthy MRI (medical procedure). * It works very well when prayed together in a group.

*[This approach slows down the pace of the prayer and can be adjusted to a desired period.]

Praying the Lord’s Prayer

This time of prayer works well when begun and ended with a spontaneous time of praise. As we are able, we enter his courts with thanksgiving and praise.

From the opening word we are reminded of the corporate nature of Christianity. In the modern world, so much of what we read and interpret is from the individual’s viewpoint. Many stories and verses of scripture are not properly understood if read from an individualistic point of view.

Father …
We are individually part of an eternal family. We are truly brothers and sisters and in this part of the prayer we express gratitude for the people that he has joined with us.

Hallowed Be Thy Name…
In this section, we reverence the name of God. We consider the many scriptural titles,
and praise his name:
Yahweh Tsidkenu: The Lord our Righteousness  “Lord, may our people grow in righteousness under your care…” (statements in quotes may be personalized).

Yahweh M’Kaddesh: The Lord our Sanctifier   “Lord, may our lives be set apart and thereby be holy. Lord may our hearts, postures, jobs, etc. be set apart for you and thereby be holy. Lord, especially may our decisions be set apart for you and your kingdom and thereby be holy.”

Yahweh Shalom: The Lord is our Peace (Pray for peace in the relationships near you or those that you know to need the Lord’s peace.)

Yahweh Shammah: The Lord is Present (As we thank and praise him for his nearness, his availability to his people, we can also intercede that he be especially present at an upcoming event or meeting.)

Yahweh Rophe: The Lord our Healer (We can thank and praise him for the health and healing we have had; we can intercede for the health of those around us and in the body that we belong to.)

Yahweh Jireh: The Lord is our Provision (We can thank and praise him for all the ways he has provided for us, our families, our communities.)

Yahweh Nissi: The Lord is my Banner (We pray that the Lord is evident at some event, gathering or even a family gathering. We pray that his banner is raised high. We raise the flag of the kingdom of God!)

Yahweh Rohi: The Lord is my Shepherd (We can pray that the Lord rules over us, that he leads us and that he feeds us. We can pray to be able to recognize his voice.)
Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done…
This section is crucial: it is the posture and life’s work of the disciple…to build the kingdom of God and to be the kingdom of God. What is the kingdom of God? It is the people who worship him, are dedicated to him and receive their marching orders from him…the people who do his will.

So, we pray for ourselves first that we would be kingdom centered. We pray also for our family and the Christian body that we are a part of…that the kingdom would be increasingly manifest in our life together.

Give us this Day Our Daily Bread…
In this section we pray for our needs. Notice that it’s our needs, not just my needs.

And Forgive Us Our Trespasses as We Forgive Our Debtors…
Another crucial phase is “…as we…”.  As we pray this prayer regularly, we are only asking the Lord to forgive us to the extent that we forgive others. If we are holding grudges, we are inviting the Lord to withhold his forgiveness of our sin. Becoming a forgiving person should be high on our list of personal development and growth. It’s the safest, sanest, wisest approach to life. It’s scriptural; it’s life-giving.

And Lead Us Not into Temptation but Deliver Us from Evil…
We pray here for oppressions and obsessions to be lifted (if they are present) and we pray for deliverance. Again, it’s for us, not just me.

We then put on the whole armor of God as in Ephesians 6 when Paul warns us that we are in an actual war with the “spiritual hosts of wickedness” (vs. 12), Ephesians 6:14-17:
Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.
We then pray a “hedge of protection” around our family and our people.
    Hast thou not put a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, one every side?  Job 1:10.

For Thine Is the Kingdom, and the Power and the Glory Forever. Amen.
This doxology leads into a time of free praise, praying in the Spirit or singing in the Spirit.

There is much you could say about the disciple’s prayer.  It has the advantage of already having been committed to memory, so the structure is in place. We need only to customize it to fit our needs or our circumstances. There are many types and approaches. 2

This one has the distinction of having been given to us by the one who called us into discipleship!

1 David H. Stern (1992) Jewish New Testament Commentary, p.32

2 Possible as the different approaches can be highlighted and developed. Each topic presented can also be approached at different levels of prayer (rote, meditation, contemplation).

The Disciples Prayer (c) by Bob Tedesco is featured in his newly published book, Choosing Discipleship, 2019, published by Credo House Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA.

Bob Tedesco is the founder of the People of God, a Sword of the Spirit community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA where he served as Senior Coordinator for 26 years. He has been involved in lay ministry for over forty-five years, serving in the Sword of the Spirit as the North American Regional President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the North American Executive Committee.

Bob is the author of two books, Essays on Christian Community and Choosing Discipleship. and forty-one Christian life articles published in the Sword of the Spirit international online magazine, Living Bulwark.

He has a BS in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh and worked as a consulting engineer for twenty years. He and his wife, Bobbie, have been married for nearly sixty years. They currently have ten children, thirty-seven grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren. They reside in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, USA.

Choosing Discipleship book by Bob Tedesco
Choosing Discipleship

Embracing the Call in a Modern Culture

by Bob Tedesco

163 pages
Published in 2019 by Credo House Publishers,Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

The book is available in print at Amazon and Credo House Publishers.

Choosing Discipleship is an excellent book and very
helpful for keeping some key issues before us in a compact way. It is very useful, easy to ponder, and easy to teach from. It is a great resource... personally; I liked the style you used... it relates to the busyness of our culture.
Bill Durrant, Founder, People of God’s Love Community, Columbus, Ohio, USA

Excellent pastoral material and also well written. It’s a tremendous contribution to the Sword of the Spirit worldwide and the wider church as well... Seasoned leaders, parents, pastoral workers, and community members need to be refreshed and learn again (and again) the vision and sound principles and wisdom you have taught over the past few decades... It will continue to be circulated to many communities and individuals for generations to come.
Don Schwager, Editor, The Living Bulwark, international online magazine of the Sword of the Spirit

Typing the manuscript for Choosing Discipleship over the course of a summer felt like being on an
extended retreat! My own life of discipleship and my understanding of what God is doing in the world today has been significantly influenced by Bob’s clear vision, insight, and wisdom... The impact he has had both as a community builder and author has stretched across continents, and I suspect his influence will be felt for many years to come.
Joanie Nath, Senior Women’s Leader, People of God Community, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

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