Praying Differently

“For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.”

These words, the doxology, always divide congregants at weddings and funerals as some Christians (like Episcopalians) conclude the Lord’s Prayer this way, while other Christians (like Roman Catholics) steer away from the doxology until a few sentences later.

While the rest of the Lord’s Prayer is found in Matthew (and a shorter version in Luke), nowhere in either gospel account is this sentence found when Jesus tells his disciples how to pray.

The doxology was added to the Lord’s Prayer in liturgy as it was to many prayers, probably in much the same way as we (and our Jewish and Muslim kinfolk) add “Amen.” It has become so traditional that we treat the doxology as a part of the prayer Matthew and Luke say Jesus taught his disciples. For some, the doxology is to be the loudest part of the prayer—I’ve heard a few men on separate occasions practically scream the final line with much gusto.

In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray that God’s kingdom might come, that God’s will might be done, that we might receive spiritual sustenance from God and be forgiven by God as we learn forgiveness for ourselves, and that we might be led away from temptation. Given all of that, the doxology explains why we would pray for such things.

During the season of Epiphany, at St. James’s, we are prayerfully utilizing a liturgy for the Eucharist developed by the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. One of the more notable differences in this liturgy is their version of the Lord’s Prayer (included in the linked page with many other versions), which they conclude this way. “For you reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and for ever. Amen.”

In this version, love is the power in which God reigns, which isn’t to say that the more traditional versions don’t say that, but this one says it in an unfamiliar way—causing me to think a little more deeply about what we pray every Sunday.

God is love, and love is of God, and we spend our lifetimes determining what exactly that means. Sometimes it is helpful to remember that despite the way the world seems, God and God’s reign in glorious love is the only reign that matters. If prayer changes the one praying more than it changes God, how might our prayers be changing us? How might our (temporarily) changing prayers cause us to think and live and breathe a bit differently? And how important is uniformity throughout the Body of Christ regarding the words we say in corporate worship?