Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Helpful Suggestion from a Catholic Christian: Why Not Memorize the Lord's Prayer?

A Catholic reader made an interesting suggestions to me based on her experience with the LDS missionaries. She feels it would be helpful if they knew the Lord's prayer verbatim. While she understands that we are taught to avoid repetitious prayer and try to make our prayers personal and fresh, I think she has a good point about the value of at least knowing the words to the immensely popular Lord's prayer. Since missionaries and Latter-day Saints in general tend to memorize a lot of passages of scripture, seems like that would be a good one to include. Your thoughts?

Here's her recent email, used with permission:
Dear Mr. Lindsay,

I have just read your detailed on-line description of Mormonism. I found much of what you had to say enlightening and beautiful. I dare say, I am NOT in search of another religion, for I was raised Catholic, remain Catholic and bring up my children as Catholics. My interest regarding Mormons, I mean no disrespect with the usage of the word Morman for I am an outsider looking in...I will proceed with the proper terminology Latter Day Saints (LDS). As I was saying my interest in LDS stems from your missionaries that come every year to my front doorstep. Like all the other neighbors, I would dismiss them without any regard to their mission for I looked upon them with the same interest as I did all the door-to-door salespeople that come through the neighborhood. However, about four years ago I took the opportunity to talk with two young gentlemen that called themselves elders. Well, one was an elder and the other the trainee, for lack of knowledge of his real title. By the way, two men coming to a door is not the optimum situation when you are a woman answering the door. Anyway, I talked with the young lads for about 45 minutes on my front porch. First, the trainee spoke and was very pleasant, then the "elder" took over...that was not so pleasant. He advised me that the one true way was thru the Church of Latter Day Saints and the only way to Christ and to heaven was thru his church and the Book of Mormon, that Joseph Smith, the prophet, will lead the way. He told me that he knew this to be so because he prayed about it and later saw a vision, therefore truth had prevailed. I thought, "Ok, he is a fervent believer in Christ and the teachings of his church" He started his profession of faith at the bottom of my front stairs, which was a comfortable distance...his fervour took him and he proceeded up the front stairs until he stood a few inches right in front of me. He started exclaiming that Catholics and other faiths have commited many atrocities in their past and the one true church was established to set things right.

I am not a woman who is easily intimidated or swayed. I am accepting of others people's beliefs and asked the young man if it was possible to reciprocate. He was adament that there is no other way but his. In his point of the view, the Catholic priests are scandalous, etc. I reminded him that leaders of ANY church are human, not divine. If there is a fault with any religion, it lies with humans and their sins, not the religion itself. I also reminded him that polygamy was a part of Joseph Smith's past. I also pointed out that Jesus gave the task to Peter to build his father's church...Peter was the first Pope and created the Catholic church, if it was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me...with all it's human imperfections. Well, let's just say this did not go over well. My husband came to the door and ended the "discussion". But, first the young man asked me if we could close with a prayer. "Sure", I replied. He asked me to pick a prayer and I agreed. I asked the two young men if "The Lord's Prayer" would work. I stated I'd like to pick one that came straight from Jesus...teaching his apostles and instructing them to teach others how to pray. We all agreed...as I lead the prayer I noticed the two young men were a bit "off". I stopped and asked the young men if they knew the prayer and to my astonishment they said No. The elder said, "I've seen it written in the bible before and it is beautiful, but I have never actually spoken the words." I suggested they learn the Lord's Prayer before they go to even one more house...which of course did not happen.

I have talked with all of the subsequent LDS missionaries and found them to be wonderful, faith-filled people that complete their task with great zeal. I admire the courage and devotion that these youths put forth in doing God's work. I tell them all that trying to convert me will be to no avail...to me being a Christian of any denomination opens the door so God can do his work. Your website gives so much information, I thought you to be a good source to reveal my experience with LDS missionaries. This was not intended to be a hurtful note, and I truly hope that I do not upset anyone who reads this. If you have any influence, please pass on the suggestion that "The Lord's Prayer - Our Father" be part of every LDS missionaries teachings.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting idea - I would definitely consider it if I were a missionary in an area with Catholics in it, just out of respect. I served in Japan, so there were many other important things that we memorized. Memorizing the Japanese language was a lot more important than memorizing the Lord's Prayer, and there was never enough time as it was...

In fact, this sounds like something a mission president might urge his missionaries to do, respective of the area of service.

In my own non-full-time-missionary opinion, though the Lord's Prayer is important scripture, I need to be memorizing scripture that holds the most weight with me personally. But now I'm thinking of Nephi's Psalm...that'd be a beautiful start.

Ardis said...

The day after I received my mission call to a Catholic country (France), I started my search for a Catholic parish where I would be comfortable. Until I left three months later, I attended Mass every Saturday night, took Catholic instruction, and kept my scheduled appointment with the priest, the equivalent of a baptismal interview. When he asked me why I wanted to become a Catholic, I startled him by explaining that I was going to serve a Mormon mission and that I wanted to understand what Catholics believed instead of assuming that everything I'd heard was true. (Hey, nobody had ever asked me until that moment why I was taking instruction!) The point, anyway, was not to be armed against Catholics, or to be able to crush anyone in debate or protect myself from conversion or anything dumb like that, but merely to *understand* the people in my mission field a little better, to avoid putting my foot in my mouth, and to be able to converse more securely about religion.

With that background (it was a very pleasant experience), I heartily endorse memorizing any scripture that is especially significant to general Christianity, not only for the sake of better knowing the scripture but for the sake of better understanding anyone receptive to the gospel.

Latter-Day James said...

I am very embarrassed by the "elder's" behavior. It is not our belief to put down other religions or to point out that we are somehow "better" than others. I for one believe he was way out of line. I don't see how it can hurt to learn the Lord's Prayer.

annegb said...

I've known it by heart since I was a girl and we always say it in AA meetings. I like it. Sometimes I say it in personal prayer. I use "my" though.

Bookslinger said...

Your post brings up other issues, but to the entitled question "Why not memorize the Lord's prayer?" the answer is: because [outside of well-defined ordinances] we are not supposed to recite set prayers.

The actual memorization of a piece of scripture is harmless, but it's the _admonition_ to use/say it and the using/saying of it that is problematic.

In our theology, repetition of set prayers is displeasing to Heavenlhy Father.

Though we acknowledge that all men have the right to worship according to the dictates of their own conscience, how, where, or what they may, I find the woman's "just repeat this little prayer along with me" to be as manipulative and offensive as the one elder's attitude toward her.

You can tell she didn't quite realize the difference between "pick a prayer" and "say a prayer." I can't conceive of an elder asking her to "pick a prayer". He may have asked her to pick who will pray, or ask her to _say_ a prayer which she interpretted as including picking (ie, choosing) which set prayer to say.

I think this was an example of two people talking past each other due to differences in assumptions and terminology/definitions. I can see how she misinterpreted some standard missionary terminolgy and standard missionary procedure over the prayer thing.

I'm sure that all three of them reciting a prayer in unison was not what the lead elder had in mind.

I also suspect that the lead elder's forcefullness had something to do with her manipulative and perhaps forceful response.

Ardis has the right outlook, to know what others believe and say in terms of _understanding_ is a good thing. To _show respect_ is a good thing.

For that elder to be confrontational to the woman was a bad thing. And for her to manipulate them was also a bad thing, although understandable after the one elder's apparent rude behavior.

The poor elders should have broken off contact waaaay sooner.

daveja vu said...

I too would have been very uncomfortable at the missionaries' rather heavy-handed attempt at conversion. As a Latter-Day Saint, this is one place where I sometimes have issues with the Church and the missionary program - when we try to aggressively "convert" people rather than try to add to their beliefs and them invite them to come unto Christ. IMHO, this tactic tends to scare off and irritate people more often than anything else, and strengthen our neighbors' beliefs that we are a cult or a "weird" religion. I've always been more comfortable with planting seeds of knowledge with people and seeing if they grow. I'm always happy to share my beliefs with those genuinely curious and willing to listen, whether or not they have any desire to convert. I am totally against bashing or undermining someone else's faith, for how do we feel when someone does that to us?

As far as the Lord's prayer, I can still remember that verbatim from my pre-LDS days. I do think knowing this prayer might help the missionaries connect more with the people they meet and make them more receptive to listening to the missionaries' messages.

RCH said...

I'm a lifelong Mormon and I've known the Lord's Prayer by heart since I was a kid; I'm kind of surprised to find myself in the minority on that. I guess I figured it was part of the Christian's cosmic unconsciousness or something -- something we all know just because we know it, whether or not we believe in the recitation of pre-written prayers. Huh.

It is a beautiful piece of scripture, and instructive.

SilverRain said...

I don't really see much difference between "saying" a prayer and "reciting" a prayer. Though our theology discourages rote prayers, I believe every single member of the LDS church has or will pray that way at some point. It is therefore hypocritical to say that it is wrong to recite scripture as a prayer. The difference is in thinking about what you are saying and make sure you are not repeating the words vainly, relying on them as a crutch, but are speaking them sincerely.

In other words, common use of the Lord's Prayer as prayer is inadvisable, as it is too easy to say the words with no meaning, but there is nothing wrong with repeating it in sincerity when your heart feels to do so. There are other snippets of scripture I have used in my prayers at times.

And what are the sacrament and other prayers if not similar to the Lord's Prayer? This is one doctrine on which it is too easy to look only on the surface and forget the meaning.

Susan said...

I think it's a good idea to memorize it. I've known it since I was a kid (was raised Lutheran).

I also think bookslinger is rather overzealous in his objection to reciting set prayers. One of those spirit of the law vs letter of the law things. The admonition against reciting prayers is because they're likely to not be heartfelt, isn't that right? Especially when recited often. But it's possible to recite a memorized prayer and feel and mean every word of it. I doubt that would be displeasing to HF.

The Lord is my Shepard said...

We sent our youngest daughter to a Baptist private school for her kindergarten year. During that year she learned the 23rd Psalm and it was beautiful to hear her recite in from memory. She can still do it, I love to hear it. She's now working on the AofF, but, imo, they do not sound nearly as nice as the 23rd Psalm, with all due respect to Joseph Smith, or whoever penned the A of F. (Maybe we'll take a break from the A of F and work on learning the Lord's Prayer.)

I think Bookslinger takes things a little too far. I can think of one place where repititious prayers are often said-the temple. W/o going too far in that area, almost every prayer I have heard there has followed the same pattern, if not the same verbiage in multiple temples. In fact, I can confidently predict how those prayers will go in almost any American temple, or prayer led by an American officiator. And, I don't think there's any harm in that.

Latter-Day James said...

I think the Lord's Prayer teaches us how to pray. Be thankful, ask for forgiveness. Among other things. Not something we should use very often but like someone said earlier, instructive and definitely nothing wrong with it. After all it is scripture.

wanderingrose said...

I learned the Lord's Prayer as a child, before I joined the LDS church.

In moments of great stress or crisis, like when the car is spinning on the ice and I wonder if we will over off the side of the bridge, I recite The Lord's Prayer instinctively, my mind and my hands are doing what they can to solve the problem, but my heart is pleading Heavenly Father for help.

It is an unconscious reaction, and a great comfort to me. I know that even when I can not form a coherent thought, I can still pray and my Father still listens.

Horebite said...

I served a mission in an area that is predominantly Catholic, and so this experience is familiar to me. I've been thinking about it the whole time I was outside shoveling my driveway. I think I have to respectfully disagree with our Catholic friend (I'll talk in the second person from here on). I appreciate your respectfulness of our beliefs and the missionaries, so I'm going to try to express why I disagree and I hope that I do not offend.

Some of the commenters have said that they like the idea of memorizing the prayer in order to better understand the people they teach. I don't disagree with that, but I don't think that's what you meant when she suggests our missionaries learn the prayer. It seams to me that you think they should memorize it for their own spiritual edification.

Firstly, by attempting to recite the prayer with you, the missionaries were trying to show respect for your way of saying a prayer. As has been pointing out, reciting a memorized prayer in unison is not typically the way Mormons pray, although (as also has been discussed) I don't think it's necessarily bad. I did the same thing many times on my mission. So I think it was not right to criticize the missionaries when they were only trying to be accommodating of your way of saying a prayer.

Second, I'm not against memorizing any scripture. It is clear that the Lord's prayer is a scripture that has special meaning to you. I respect that. However, I don't share that same view (and Mormons in general don't). I believe Jesus is teaching us the general form of how we should pray. While this is important, so are many other things that Jesus taught. If I were to pick the most important of Jesus' teachings, I would pick the sermon on the mount. If I were to memorize any of his teachings for the sake of my own spiritual edification, it would be that one. I respect the fact that you disagree and would rather memorize the Lord's prayer, but that's a personal decision (related also to your choice of religion). I don't feel that there is any 1 scripture that everyone should memorize.

Thirdly, regarding what the elder said about the LDS church being the only way to heaven, etc., I think he may have been a little overbearing, but I don't condemn him as much as some of the other commenters. The missionaries are taught to be bold in bearing testimony, and there is a fine line between being bold and being disrespectful, and that line is difficult to navigate for anyone, let along a young man. The truth is, we do believe that the LDS church is the only church that has the fullness of the gospel, and the authority to baptize. If we did not believe this, we probably wouldn't bother doing missionary work in areas where most people are already Christian. Mormons are not alone in this belief. May I point out, respectfully, the Catholics don't accept Mormon baptism (although they accept other Christian baptism) as valid. I assume that means that the Catholic position is that Mormons will not go to heaven, but I could be wrong about that as I'm not an expert in Catholic doctrine. The whole purpose of the missionaries is the bear testimony both of Jesus Christ as our savior and Joseph Smith as his prophet in the latter-days, through whom the true church was restored. It is difficult to teach this and avoid the implication that all other churches must be lacking in some way. I suppose if we asked the elder about this experience he would tell how he bore testimony that the church was true, but you see it as an attack on your religion. It's not for me to say who is right (perhaps you both are to some degree), but my point is that it's just a difference of perspective. If the elder really did point on specific deficiencies in your religion, rather than just testifying of the need for a restoration of the true church through Joseph Smith, then I agree that he was disrespectful.

Let me reiterate that I respect your view and your decision to worship and pray as you feel is right. I also respect your right to tell the missionaries that they should memorize the prayer, if you believe it would be good for them. Where I disagree with you is where you considered it to be disrespectful for them to ignore your suggestion.

Sorry for the long comment. I hope I did not offend.

T-rex said...

It would have been wonderful if the Elders had been able to recite the Lords Prayer followed up with Nephi's Psalm. :)

Horebite said...

Now that I read the post again (it had been several hours--there was a lot of snow:)), I will revise my third point. While I still think boldness/disrespectfulness is a difficult line to walk, it does seem that the elder did cross the line by criticizing Catholic priests and such. I agree with you that leaders of any church (including my own) are human, not divine, and so the missionaries were wrong to bring up that as proof that a restoration of the true church was needed.

Bookslinger said...

Perhaps I was a bit strident. It was not my intention to doubt anyone's sincerity.

Pre-written prayers are good to use as _examples_ of things to pray about, which is what we're taught that "the Lord's Prayer" was, an example.

Pre-written prayers are also used by the prophets and other leaders for occasions such as temple or building dedications. However, those pre-written prayers are not "stock" prayers. They are written under inspiration, and not given to people for the purpose of mere repitition.

And I don't doubt that someone can be sincere while going over memorized words in their head.

Historically, there are some bad things associated with _set_ or "stock" prayers, _other than_ those prayers associated with specific ordinances (baptism, sacrament and temple settings) which we are commanded to repeat exactly.

Example prayers are also fine for small children, or people who are brand new to praying. But, learning to pray on one's own is a very important part of the basic LDS missionary discussions.

Some scriptures teach that the way to pray effectively is to pray what the Spirit prompts us to pray in the moment when we are actually praying, ie, to pray by the Spirit, Romans 8:26, Ephesians 6:18, 2 Nephi 32:8. There's another reference I don't have handy, that talks about how we are given what we pray for when what we're told what to pray for by the Spirit.

I can't think of any prophets or missionaries in the scriptures who told their listeners to pray certain exact words.

Luke 11:2 appears to be a command to pray those exact words, but Matthew 6:9, includes the phrase "after this manner". I can see how someone might take Luke 11:2 as an admonition to use stock prayers, but the Lord does go on to teach more about prayer in the gospels, and did not limit his teaching on prayer to that one example.

Some of the bad things that are historically associated with set or stock prayers are:

1. The example of set prayers teaches many people that God wants to hear _only_ set prayers.

2. The example of set prayers teaches many people that the average person isn't good enough to come up with their own prayer, ie, you have to have a priest or someone similar come up with a prayer for you.

3. They often give the impression that the words are some kind of "magic" (like a spell or incantation) or something that forces God's hand.

4. They can give the impression that we can't ask for the things our heart desires, if those things are not already included in a pre-approved prayer.

5. They can give people the impression that God cares more about outward formality and merely mouthing words than the inward attitude of our heart.

6. Even though "but I say them sincerely" is often used as a justification or explanation of set prayers, sincerity is not what is implied when someone new to prayer (or new to Christianity) is being taught a set prayer.

I did not grow up in a Christian household, and when I learned or heard of Christians using set or memorized prayers, it really bothered me. I read of various "books of prayer" or "prayer books", and how people used them, and it was very much like black magic and incantations. If there is a God, mere words cannot force him to do or not do anything.

It bothered me that if somebody wanted something from God, that they had to go look it up in an official prayer book to see if a) it's okay to ask for it, and b) find out the right words to use on God so he'll grant your petition.

I've heard all sorts of explanations and justifications and reasoning for such things as stock prayers. And again, I don't begrudge anyone their own personal way of approaching God. Let them worship how, where, or what they may. Let them imagine whatever kind of God they want. Let them believe whatever they want as to the nature and personality of God.

But I will also voice my opinion that the creed of using stock prayers, outside of teaching the young (and outside of the fact that there's only so many ways to say the things we really do need to pray about) is _not a good thing_.

I'll believe someone when they say they are being sincere in their heart when reciting (verbally or mentally) a stock prayer. But when you _teach_ or _advocate_ a stock prayer to someone, the need for sincerity gets overwhelmed by the implied necessity of a _stock_ or _set_ prayer.

I am _not_ saying that mentally repeating the words of the person who is voice, _during_ the actual prayer is wrong. That "mentally repeating the speaker's words while he or she is in the act of speaking them" is something that Brigham Young taught.

Is it okay to write down your own personal prayers in your journal? Yes. That's fine. The prophets did it, so we can follow their example.

Is it okay to read the prayers of others, such as the Psalms? Yes. That's what they are there for.

The Psalms are there for our edification and our education. The scriptures exist for our learning.

The temple dedicatory prayers, going back to the Kirtland dedicatory prayer in section 109 of the Doctrine and Covenants, are also written and archived for our benefit and learning.

But the Psalms and the words of prophets, both modern and ancient, were not given to us to be used as magical incantations, as some "prayer books" imply.

Nor do I agree with some of the Pentecostals/Evangelicals who say that all you have to do to get saved is repeat a certain prayer, and "poof," you're "saved."

But yeah, if you want to memorize Matthew 6:9-13, or even Luke 11:2-4, that's great. However, if you're going to use those passages to teach prayer to someone who is new to prayer, please give the rest of the lesson, and explain that those are examples of a pattern (acknowlege God, that he is our Father, express thankfullness, ask for what you need, ask for forgiveness, remember to forgive others) and are not actual words to be repeated for the rest of your life.

Bookslinger said...

daveja vu:

I don't believe the church has ever condoned such in-your-face tactics or mannerisms that the one elder is reported to have used on the lady who wrote Jeff.

But such things can happen with overzealous missionaries.

And I agree with one of Horebite's points about walking a fine line of being bold in testimony while being respectful and avoiding criticism at the same time.

I think an important goal is to take our testimonies and the truths we know, and use them to be uplifting towards people, to inspire them to seek more truth than what they already have, and _not_ to bash them over the head with it.

Some people are so happy and so fulfilled with their current religion, that they can't imagine that there is more out there. And it can be extremely difficult to inspire them such that they could even conceive of more truth or more happiness than what they already have.

If one stays perfectly content with what they have, and where they are at, there's no way we can give them more. And, if their cup is literally full, and already runneth over, then there's literally no way that they even could receive more.

marcus said...

I don't remember when I first Learned the Lord's Prayer, but I've known it by heart since I was very young. One thing that I've noticed is that there are some slight variations in the prayer when recited by Catholics versus Protestants. Having one version memorized wouldn't necessarily prevent stumbling through it, since each party may be reciting a version with different wording.

Anonymous said...

"because [outside of well-defined ordinances] we are not supposed to recite set prayers."

Let's remember that as we pray for moisture and for those who couldn't be here this week that they may be here next week and for this meal we are about to eat, that it may nourish and strengthen our bodies, and bless the hands that prepared this meal.

Mormons recite set prayers all the time.

Latter-Day James said...

anon, I think you are grasping at straws with your example. I know what you are getting at. I thought of the same thing. These are not prayers proposed to us by clergy to use specifically when we pray for moisture, ask for the blessing of the sick, bless the food, etc. These are things people have heard others say that "sound good" and say what they want. How many ways can one ask for moisture, ask for someone to be well enough to join them the following week, ask for food to nourish and strengthen us. Maybe we should ask that the food be extra yummy? Not sure. Or maybe that it won't be so dry and ask for precipitation instead of moisture? (I have heard it both ways) Don't compare apples and oranges.

wtkeeney said...

It just seems odd to me that members WOULDN'T know the Lord's prayer by heart. I know it-- and I was raised LDS. I didn't learn it because I "sat down to memorize it". I know it just because I've HEARD it so often. We study that passage of scripture everytime there's a primary, Young Men, Young Women, Relief Society, or Elder's Quorum lesson on prayer. We study it in Sunday School and Seminary whenever the year's study is dedicated to the New Testament.
And have these particular two Elders NEVER been to the worhip services of other Christian religions, either with friends or just out of curiosity? Have they never been to the wedding or funeral of those of other faiths?
The Lord's prayer is recited there as well.
It's also frequently recited in movies that show church scenes, wedding scenes, funeral scenes, etc.
Honestly-- I just find it bewildering that a member of the Church WOULDN'T know the Lord's prayer by heart, simply from having studied it and/or heard it so often, even thought we don't recite it as part of our Sacrament meetings.
Either way, memorizing The Lord's Prayer just seems like a common sense thing to do, especially for those who want to be missionaries going out into the larger Christian world where almost every other Christian religion DOES recite it as part of their services and private worship.
Being that it's a standard part or their worship, shouldn't missionaries know it, too? It's such a BASIC thing in other faiths, that I can see members of those other faiths assuming (unfair though it may be) that anyone who DOESN'T know the Lord's Prayer, "can't be Christian".
It's a part of OUR scriptures, we study it in OUR meetings- it's not like expecting our missionaries to be able to recite the Nicene Creed.

Janie said...

What a wonderful mature positive uplifting email from a Catholic friend. Looking past the discussion of the nature of prayer, how I wish we as a people/church could relate to other faiths in a similar manner. It would be very difficult for me (a convert of 40 years) to look past the young elder's "attitude" and not have an immediate defensive/offended mind set. As I have suggested to some of the "anti's" that I encounter...you pray your way, I'll pray mine...now let's both join forces and build a school or dig a well and make the world a little better place. Our Catholic friend is a treasure.

Darion Alexander said...

I love the Lord's Prayer. Being raised a Catholic and later a convert to LDS, it was nice to say the Lord's Prayer and realize that indeed the Savior was praying to His Father and not to Himself as so many believe. The words are strikingly humble as He teaches us to pray to the Father in His name for all things. Nice post Jeff.

Mormanity said...

Janie, I really agree. Her response is a great example of a kind, Christian response in dealing with a different faith. May we learn from her example.

daveja vu said...

Bookslinger...

I probably should have put a little more thought into my comment before I posted it. Thinking it over, I don't believe that the Church would approve of such forceful attempts at conversion. But it seems to me that many missionaries are taught to push uncomfortably close to that limit. Add inexperienced young men who may not have been exposed to other faiths into the equation, and you tend to end up with problems such as what the Catholic responder encountered. Being a convert and having been raised in a Methodist household (and attending a Lutheran church in my teens) I tend to be very sensitive to such issues. That is why I prefer to rely more on personal testimony and serving as an example (I tend to fall down quite often in that area) rather than intellectual discussions on the finer points of scripture and pointing out fundamental differences between our faith and all the others.

In short, I believe when you are talking to someone about religion of a different faith, you should proceed as if you are talking about their mother and father. Pointing out imperfections will get you nowhere but the door. And I believe that if one is perfectly comfortable with their faith, then my job is to add a few seeds of my faith to their own, and move on.

Horebite said...

wtkeeney, well I'm admit that I don't think I have it memorized. I could probably tell you most of the phrases that are in it, but probably not exactly word for word, and maybe I'd mess up the order. I have heard it many times, including as a boy scout when we'd have (non-LDS) church service at camp-outs. Also of course while reading the scriptures and in lessons, although I don't agree with you that it's mentioned in every lesson about prayer. I could probably do OK if someone was saying it with me to keep up. But still, I don't have it memorized by heart.

And I agree with the previous comments that appreciated the respectful tone of the letter.

Halibut said...

There is nothing more beautiful than when a priest finishes his prayers (petitions) and the entire congregation jointly prays as jesus taught them.

the Hail Mary is also beautiful.

wtkeeney said...

I'll bet you do have it memorized Horebite, and don't even realize it. Of course, it's easier when the entire congregation is saying it with you. :) It's sort of like singing along with the radio. You know all the words to the song, as long as your singing along to the recording.
As per someone's comments about different faiths saying the prayer differently-- I've noticed lately in Catholic services at several different parishes (so it's not just something for a particular priest), that they've dropped the "forever and ever, Amen" at the end of the Lord's prayer. The say, "For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory- Amen". -- Not really sure what the story is behind dropping the "forever and ever" part.

Anonymous said...

After I posted, I thought "that's not right-- they leave out more than that" so I consulted my son (who goes to a private Catholic school and is required to go to mass once a week as part of the regular school day) and he confirmed that they stop after "and deliver us from evil", and go right to the "Amen."

Anonymous said...

"Not really sure what the story is behind dropping the "forever and ever" part."

Maybe we should ask our Catholic friend that sent the letter.

Anonymous said...

"that's not right-- they leave out more than that"

That ain't right. Is this not some violation or some thing? Now I am really confused. When I say "The Lords Prayer" with a Catholic should I use the new revised version or the old long version? And which version should our missionaries be required to learn or use? O' the humanity!!

Anonymous said...

Yea! What happened to the shall not take away or add to thing?

wtkeeney said...

Now THIS is interesting!! I just found some very helpful information on this!!
I did a search, trying to find information on why Catholics (as of late) have been leaving out the last part of the Lord's prayer. I actually typed the words, "Why don't Catholics say the end of the Lord's Prayer" in my search engine and this site came up. www.scribd.com/doc/158496/the-Lords-prayer
What appears is only a section of what's apparently a much larger volume. It's entitled "The Lord's Prayer; Part 2; Section Nine of Catholic Christianity" presented by the Knights of Columbus, based on the Catholic Catechism.
(An interesting note-- on the second page giving copyright information, it also gives the names and dates for the "Nihil Obstat" and the "Imprimatur"- stating that that the Nihil Obstat and the Imprimatur are official declarations given to books and pamphlets that are free of doctrinal or moral error. (sort of like having a General Authority stamp of approval I guess) But then it says that "no implication in contained therein that those who granted the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur" agree with the contents of the book.
I'm not sure I understand that.
Why would you declare a book free of doctrinal or moral error, and then add a disclaimer that you don't necessarily agree with the book??
Am I misunderstanding what it says??
Anyway-- this section of the book goes through The Lord's Prayer almost word for word, giving a lengthy explanation and the Catholic doctrine behind the particular words or phrases. An entire explanation behind "Our father"-- an entire explanation behind "who art in heaven", etc, etc.
According to this book, the "For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, for ever" part is NOT scriptural. It says "The Church added it early in her history" because "it is right to end the prayer as it began, with adoration and praise"
Very interesting... and I'm sure they're probably right. (My evangelical friends, who all swear by the King James version will have a heart attack. :) It would be interesting to see if the NIV or other versions include the phrase.
Anyway-- it's an interesting read if you want to more fully understand the Catholic doctrine and beliefs behind the prayer. Naturally, we would agree with much of it, and would disagree with some as well.
BTW-- in case I come up as "anonymous"-- this is wtkeeney. I added the post about my son going to a Catholic school and confirming the "dropping" of the last part of the Lord's prayer, but I came up as "Anonymous"-- so I must have done something wrong when submitting my post. So -- just in case I do it again, I'm not trying to be anonymous. :)

pops said...

I learned The Lord's Prayer in public schools, if I remember correctly. Of course, at my age, it could either be true or a faulty memory -either way, I'm absolved.

With respect to missionary techniques - that might be an interesting topic to explore. The notion of God appearing to someone and asking them to do something that might expose them to public ridicule has long been the subject of comedy routines and movies. Some simply don't believe it's possible for God to do such a thing, which seems to be placing God in a box of human invention. Others might wish to consider, "What if God did appear to someone in our day? What would he say? If he had a message for all mankind, how would he desire it to be propagated?" Anyway, that could be a fun topic...

Bookslinger said...

"Others might wish to consider, "What if God did appear to someone in our day? What would he say? If he had a message for all mankind, how would he desire it to be propagated?" Anyway, that could be a fun topic..."

There have been many Hollywood movies about that. "Oh God" and "Oh God, Book 2", starring George Burns (1977 and 1980) come to mind.

I thought they were a bit light-hearted, but they were tastefully done.

Also the TV series "Joan of Arcadia" was along the lines of your question.

Halibut said...

As the LDS Church "matures" you will see a number of things change, including their view of the "Lords Prayer". Our Stake President is adament that it is "His" prayer and not to be repeated.

As things are done in Utah---LDS expects all the world to copy. Music for instance----the church expects all music to be in European hymn style. However the Church is not European!

Anonymous said...

"This was not intended to be a hurtful note, and I truly hope that I do not upset anyone who reads this. If you have any influence, please pass on these suggestions."
I also do not intend this to be hurtful or upsetting.
First, we only have the sweet Catholic ladies version of events that took place on her door step. No U-tube video, which just adds about 10 pounds or years depending which angle it is shot from. Second, we don't have the missionaries versions, complete with body language, vocal inflection, and those big 20 something smiles, along with unusual accents they bring with them. Third, we do not know in what context the issues of priests or the history of the Catholic church came up. Fourth, she used the same technique to counter by barbing at them about polygamy and Joseph Smith.
It is hard to see how the two can compare, however, give us 2000 years of history and we will try to catch up. Fifth, if the sweet Catholic lady would read Matt: 6 and verse 7, It is clear that the Lord is teaching a format for how and how not to pray. Further, we have many other examples where Christ and others prayed and did not use the Lord's Prayer when they prayed. Why are these prayers not considered important enough to commit to memory and repeat?
"But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do…""6But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly",
I am not sure repeating the Lord's prayer is included in these instructions but considering that Christ was instructing others on how and how not to pray I think it might be a consideration.
"He asked me to pick a prayer and I agreed. I asked the two young men if "The Lord's Prayer" would work.
"The elder said, "I've seen it written in the bible before and it is beautiful, but I have never actually spoken the words." I suggested they learn the Lord's Prayer before they go to even one more house...which of course did not happen."
This story sound some what contrived. I have never heard anyone in the church ask someone to "pick a prayer". The Elder may have asked her to pick a prayer out of respect for her Catholic faith but I am sure we can't give the Elder this much credit. As a young convert with no religious back ground I did the best to prepare for my mission one year after I joined the church and memorizing prayers to repeat over and over was not part of the training.
It sounds to me like the missionary may have asked if she could pick someone in the group to pray and she end up suggesting a set prayer, as would be the tradition with a Catholic. I have gone to other religions services and have always felt unsure of how to follow along , so her judgmental view of the missionaries may need to be tempered with some humility. I get the impression that most of this letter is a back handed complement.
"Like all the other neighbors, I would dismiss them without any regard to their mission for I looked upon them with the same interest as I did all the door-to-door salespeople that come through the neighborhood."
I think this sounds familiar, in the Bible two men keep showing up over and over and they are dismissed like magazine sales people. Then what were they commanded to do? Preach nothing but repentance to this generation. And some thing about dust and feet.
"By the way, two men coming to a door is not the optimum situation when you are a woman answering the door."
Of course this why missionaries travel in pairs, so they can over power women and drag them back to Utah and force them in to polygamy. I think this got missed in the anti- literature she may have been reading.
"I talked with the young lads for about 45 minutes on my front porch."
That is a long time. I think we are missing the whole story of events that transpired.
"He started exclaiming that Catholics and other faiths have committed many atrocities in their past and the one true church was established to set things right."
Facts to hurt regardless of which religion it is being discusse.
"Jesus gave the task to Peter to build his father's church...Peter was the first Pope and created the Catholic church,"
I am sure they tried to set things right with a story about Peter, James, and John giving Joseph Smith the Priesthood restored which by the way is good enough for me.
"I stopped and asked the young men if they knew the prayer and to my astonishment they said No.
I suggested they learn the Lord's Prayer before they go to even one more house...which of course did not happen."
As they should on their mission; they are there to teach not to be taught. My guestion to her would be; why she is not out doing her missionary work as the scriptures command? They normally work on scripture memorization at 5:30 in the morning or just before they retire for sleep or unless the spirit directed them to. I wonder if she would like to have a prayer meeting at 5:30 to go over some of the scriptures that she may have missed?
One last thought, on the LDS version of the Catholic church from the Book of Mormon; I was taught some harsh things about the Catholic church from the LDS church which are the words of G-d found in the Book of Mormon. Although, He pulls no punches it would be good for us to remember that even though we feel the Catholic church got off track with the gospel some 2000 years ago, we owe them a great debt of gratitude for keeping the Bible in tact as much as it is.

Christopher Estep said...

Being that I read the summary at work (yours is one of the few blogs where I don't mind partial feeds), I don't have time to read the whole post. I did want to address the idea of memorizing the Lord's Prayer.

I personally think it's a great idea. Anything that we take the time to memorize makes it easier to be recalled, either by circumstance or the Spirit. That's why we have to be careful of what we expose ourselves too. We want to retain the good, but not the bad. It's not that exposure to something negative is in itself bad, but we should be filling our thoughts (and memorizations) with uplifting and/or positive things.

I think the Lord's Prayer certainly applies. As a Baptist, I memorized it because of a southern gospel song version of it.

Memorizations most certainly do not need to be simply of scripture, either. Anything that you find worthy of recall is worth memorizing. My most treasured memorization is the Veil ceremony at the Temple. I can go through every part in my head and when I do, I recite it to myself as though it were my own endowment. I cannot begin to say how much that has been a comfort to me. I have some anxiety issues, and that's one of the techniques I use to focus on something other than what's stressing me at the time.

Anonymous said...

Good Afternoon All,

I've followed some of the commentary on this issue a bit. Being Catholic myself, its an interesting posting. I do agree with the original poster that learning the Lord's Prayer would be of great benefit to your LDS missionaries. Something that I wanted to touch upon though was this whole memorization of prewritten prayers versus praying what comes to mind.

I think its very important to note that no form of prayer, whether pre-written or spontaneously uttered has any value if the prayer does not come from the heart. This is what Christ is cautioning about when he's talking about the form of prayer. To be truly meaningful, prayer must come from our hearts. So looking at it from that vantage point, none of the prayers uttered by us will mean anything if we aren't praying from the heart.

Something else I would touch upon, which follows along those lines is the value of pre-written prayers. I get the sense from talking to LDS and other non-Catholics alike, that there is a perception that Catholics are not able to, or are somehow taught to pray only with prewritten prayers. Unfortunately there is some truth to that, but, that said, if you really follow what the Popes and the various Saints have taught over the years, its been to pray what's in your hearts.

Praying what's in our hearts may mean reciting a prewritten prayer while having a contrite spirit and heart. It may also mean opening up and speaking the things that we need to say to God. In my own prayer life, I use many forms of prayer. Some of those are prewritten, but almost as equally I pray in a conversational type of prayer with God. There is great value in both forms.

For example, a prewritten prayer such as the Lord's Prayer covers pretty much everything that we may need to ask God for. Look at the words. But those words are just words if our heart and mind are not in the prayer. As are the words of the LDS Blessing of the Sacrement or the various temple ordinances, which are in fact prewritten prayers repeated over and over again each week, or each time one might go to the temple.

The same holds true if one just simply prays with spontaneous words. If the heart and mind aren't part of the prayer, those words are just words. One of the values of a prewritten prayer is that it gives us guidance in how to pray. The prewritten prayers give a frame of reference upon which to meditate. Those same prayers also help us to collect our thoughts and focus on the praying. Take for example a prayer such as the Rosary. That is much more than a recitation of a 150 Hail Marys, but only if one's heart and mind are part of the prayer. If one really participates, the Rosary can draw one to truly meditate and pray and feel God's spirit.

Take the Psalms for another example. Many of those were written by David as prayers to God. Read some of them. At times David is praising God for his glory, at other times David is praying for God's forgiveness or intercessions. Those are beautiful prayers, many of which have been put in the form of song by both the Catholic Church and the other Protestant denominations (that includes LDS).

That's basically my two cents on the subject. I wish you all well in your prayer lives.

Catholic Defender

Ken said...

Another type of set prayer is song. D&C 25:12 states "For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads." Personally, some of my most heartfelt spiritual communications have occurred while singing hymns--whether expressing my thoughts and feelings to God, or receiving comfort and guidance from Him. I'm sure this experience is common throughout the vast majority of believers, regardless of denomination.

Anonymous said...

Knowing the Lord's Prayer is good for ecumenicism no matter if you're a missionary or not.

--Adam Greenwood

Kiznoh's Mom said...

Raised a Protestant (Methodist, Evangelical and Reformed, United Church of Christ), I memorized "The Lord's Prayer" at a very early age. It was expected. Later, as I went through several years as a "church shopper," I noted this memorized scripture appeared to be universally uniting of all Christians.

The only religion I had encountered to that point which claimed to be "true" was the Roman Catholic Church. I converted to Catholicism, married a wonderful Catholic boy, and we started a family. As our 2 older children got a bit older, 3 and 5 years of age, I was introduced to the LDS doctrine. This "newly found" knowledge sang in my heart like an ancient hymn from a long-forgotten "former life" and I knew I had found what I had searched for for years. Though opposed to any other religion himself, my loving husband very courageously gave his written consent for me to be baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He further permitted our children to accompany me to Church, though they were not permitted to be baptized when reaching the age of 8.

Fast forward a number of years to a time when our eldest son died. He and his newly-baptized LDS wife made funeral arrangements before he passed. He would have an LDS burial. Of course his father and all the relatives on that "side of the house" are Catholic. And of course they attended the funeral and burial. At the interment, the beloved LDS brother conducting the service, invited all to join him in reciting "The Lord's Prayer." Can you imagine how participating in the recitation of this memorized scripture was received by those mourning family members who were strangers to the "Mormon" religion? That simple act was so unifying of us all. Like the balm of Gilead, this simple act was an important element in binding our wounds of sorrow as a family, divided as to our method of worship, but unified in our profession of Jesus as our Savior.

In short, it probably doesn't matter one way or the other when the day comes when the heavens unfold like a scroll--in the meantime, this is my personal experience with this question.