Tag Archives: The Power of the Lord’s Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer Awakens a Soul

“Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be your name…” (Mt. 6:9)

When was the last time you listened closely to the words in the Lord’s Prayer?

Once or twice a month, I take communion on Sundays to Catholic residents at a nearby nursing home, including a few residents in various stages of Alzheimer’s. Some of the Alzheimer residents are not able to receive communion, or are often asleep when I arrive, so I usually just say a short prayer with them.

One Sunday, when I came to one of the women who had her eyes closed (let’s call her Alice for the sake of privacy), I gently touched her on the shoulder and asked her if she would like to say the Lord’s Prayer. She opened her eyes in kind of blank stare. I knelt down beside her, put my hand on her hand, and started to slowly recite the Lord’s Prayer. Her eyes began to open wide and she started to say the words with me. Her eyes became wider and wider as she saw herself remembering the words. A slight smile spread across her face. She appeared as if she were proud of herself for remembering the words. As we finished a small tear appeared in the corner of one of her eyes. I said, “Alice, would you like to receive communion?” “Yes,” she nodded, and I placed the Eucharist on her tongue.

This was the first time that I had ever seen Alice receive communion. It was as if the Lord’s Prayer had awakened her soul and memory, enabling her to recite the entire prayer. It made the back of my neck tingle.

I, too, was impacted by seeing the power of Jesus’ words on Alice, words Jesus suggested to his disciples when they asked him how to pray. (Luke 11:2) For some of us, the Lord’s Prayer may become so familiar that we may recite the words but let their meaning bounce right off our mind and heart.

When I first started to take communion to the residents of this nursing home, I was uncomfortable with the Alzheimer’s residents. In fact, on my second visit I skipped going to their floor. But after seeing the impact of Jesus’ words on Alice and watching how those words awakened God’s presence in her, I received a new love for Alice and all her fellow residents.

How do you retain the meaning and power of the Lord’s Prayer in your life?

A Surprising Outcome with the Lord’s Prayer

Does our frequent use of the Lord’s Prayer result in it becoming a rote prayer with no power?

Over the past couple of years, I have been taking communion on Sundays to residents of a local nursing home.   One of the residents on the Alzheimer’s floor (we will call her Mary Jane) has always been eager to receive communion, but on a recent visit she became quite agitated and even accused me of wanting to kill her.  I was shocked as was her attendant, who tried to calm and assure her that everything was fine.  She would have none of it, and I retreated to call on other residents.

Last week when I returned to the home, I found Mary Jane just finishing her breakfast and asked if she wanted to receive communion.  She did not respond.  I knelt down beside her chair and asked if she would like to say the Lord’s Prayer.   I started to say it slowly, “Our Father who art in heaven…”  She quietly joined in, “Hallowed be thy name.”  As we continued, she pronounced each word in a slow deliberate fashion, “Thy – kingdom – come, thy – will – be – done, on – earth – as – it – is – in – heaven.”  She grew more emphatic, “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” With a smile on her face and a look of contentment, we continued, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

I gave her communion, and then to my surprise, she said, “I love you.”  I responded, “I love you, too, Mary Jane,” and gave her a pat.  What a contrast to my prior visit! 

In reciting the Lord’s Prayer, Mary Jane may have been recalling a prior time in her relationship with God – perhaps in church, maybe in personal prayer or a family prayer time.  We can only speculate what she may have been thinking, but it brought her peace and contentment.

We must never underestimate the power of this prayer which Jesus used to teach his disciples how to pray.  Its proclamation of the holiness and omnipotence of God, and its petitions that God’s will to be done on this earth, that our daily needs be provided, that our sins be forgiven as we forgive others, and that we be protected from temptation and evil are a profound and eloquent summation of what counts most in life

Why should we be surprised that this prayer, testifying to the kingdom, glory and power of God, awakens a soul ensnared in the darkness of Alzheimer’s disease?

St. Paul declared, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power.” (1 Co. 4:20)  There is power in the Lord’s Prayer and God’s word.  May we all be awakened!