Yes, I’m the pastor. Yes, I’ve been praying the prayer since childhood. Yes, I lead the prayer every Sunday.
Still, it was bound to happen.
I’ve feared it would and it finally did. I messed up the Lord’s Prayer. And I don’t mean I substituted trespasses for debts forgetting the tradition of this particular congregation. (There are many slight variations of the prayer.) I mean I jumped from the first lines to the end of the prayer. The congregation confused by my mixup, sat in silence and I had to return to the beginning of the prayer to get back on track.
I guess this kind of thing is why I consistently find reassurance from Paul’s letter to the Romans. Writes the apostle about prayer,
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27 NRSV
As one who is often called to lead public prayer, the experience of forgetting lines of a prayer so well known is a humbling experience. It is also a reminder that it is not the words I speak but the content of my soul that reaches God. It is also an opportunity to display my humanity before my congregation and give them the opportunity to love me and forgive me through my human flaws.
Altogether, not a bad experience.
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil for thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.