Freestyling the Lord’s Prayer
To freestyle Scripture is study a passage’s ideas and pray it back to God from deep within ourselves. We might even say we “riff” the Scripture (originally a jazz term meaning “to borrow and elaborate on”), meaning that our prayer is an improvised verbal outpouring. This form of Scripture meditation combines an “improv” approach with meaningful study.
Free-spirited preacher and monk Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) did this as he prayed the Lord’s Prayer, amplifying and expanding one phrase at a time. C. S. Lewis did the same, “festooning” phrases of Scripture. meaning that he “decorated” or “embellished” phrases of Scripture (Letters to Malcolm). His “riffing” phrases did not “obliterate the plain, public sense of the petition but were merely hung on it.”
When we’ve studied and savored a Scripture passage, such improve comes naturally. So after reading Dallas Willard’s study and improvised wording of the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11 version, DC, p. 258), I started doing that too. He explains that the prayer consists of five requests or categories of requests, that . . .
- the name “God” would be regarded with utmost respect and endearment.
- God’s kingdom would come more fully to earth.
- our needs for today are be met.
- our sins be forgiven, not held against us.
- we not be permitted to come under trial or to have bad things happen to us.
I’ve included my freestyle Lord’s Prayer below. You may want to try it, adding your own paraphrases, personalizations and expansions of each phrase. Continue and enjoy talking to God soaked in the ideas Jesus gave us. I’d love for you to post this on my Facebook Author page.
Our Father, Creator, Lover of our soul, Hidden Source of all things, One who knows us inside out, Companion in all of life. You who “art in” heaven, who “art in” this space in front of me right now, always by my side, yet always active and at play in the universe.
Hallowed, sacred, treasured, delightful is your name, your presence, your power. Your name is the most meaningful word in my language. Your Self is the deepest part of reality, the upholder of all things, encompassing infinite wisdom and deep attractive goodness. May more of who You are be revealed to the all people, including me.
Thy kingdom come. Help me live in the power of Your Kingdom, immersed in the Trinitarian presence, soaked in Kingdom peace/shalom. May I partner with You in bringing Your invisible realm of love and charity to every person I meet and place I go.
Thy will be done. May whatever deeds You want done be done. May I do Your will, that is, to love you with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, to love that person standing in front of me in selfless, life-giving ways.
Give us this day our daily bread. Help us to live at the “need level,” not the “greed level.” Today we have You and You have what we need. Tomorrow will be the same. We do have everything we need.
Forgive us our sins. We need Your mercy—we can’t survive without Your mercy. As we see how immersed in Your mercy we are, show us how to forgive those sin against us. Help us have mercy on them.
Lead us not to into temptation, that is, help us recognize the ways you spare us from things that are too difficult for us. Please continue to intervene on our behalf so that the incongruent, twisted ways of what seems “normal” do not lead us to trust in anything but You.
Deliver us from evil around us. Since it is true that the line between good and evil runs down the center of every human heart, deliver me from the evil within me. I don’t want to bear that burden. I want freedom to live a life of generosity and adventure, fully immersed in Your presence.
For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. May everything that You are in this world and the next be real to us today. Today may we realize that we live in your strong and unshakable Kingdom here and now.
Amen. So be it! Absolutely!
Take a minute to soak in God’s presence and the fullness of who God is.
If you’d like to learn more about how to do this kind of Scripture meditation, I invite you to join our free online workshop where I’ll explain how to meditate on Scripture and lead you through an exercise like the above with Psalm 23: Monday Feb 20 (4 PM Pacific, 7 PM Eastern) and Wednesday Feb 22 (6 PM Pacific, 9 PM Eastern).
Also, to help you prepare for Easter, I’m again offering my online course Meeting God in Scripture beginning Monday, February 27 (in time for lent). In the course I give much more instruction on how to do this and lead you though a passage of Scripture each week. Visit MeetingGodInScripture.com to join the VIP waitlist and we will notify you when the course opens for enrollment.
Grace and peace,
© Jan Johnson – For permission to reprint, Click Here