Every now and then, Best Beloved and I find ourselves in a congregation that has been given the opportunity during worship to pray what is commonly called ‘The Lord’s Prayer.’ The sound of other voices lifting the same beloved words I am saying always moves me deeply. There are few things that give me such a sense of unity with the church through the ages, and sometimes it seems I can hear the voice of the Master still echoing from the hillside in Palestine when he said, ‘This, then, is how you should pray…’

Blessed is the child who has someone who teaches them not only to pray, but HOW to pray. For me, that childhood lesson always began with, ‘Dear Lord Jesus…’, often also followed by reminders of who not to forget, since my child-mind tended to go down the rabbit holes of its own imagination. 😊

Years later, sitting at prayer with one of my now-oldest friends, Anni Bonnke, I was surprised to hear her start with those same words, ‘Dear Lord Jesus…’ Such an opening indicated a personal, tender but respectful attitude that I have witnessed for many years. Sadly, such a relationship too often is missing in this age of ‘God-my-buddy-of-all-grace.’

One of the things I have grown to appreciate in the ‘southern’ culture of Florida, is the respect still generally offered to older people. At first, I found it jarring to be called ‘Ma’am’ or be addressed as Mrs Vangi and said so. But one day someone (respectfully 😊) told me that I was robbing them of the honor they wished to show. A change of perspective was needed!

Let me go back to church. Am I looking for a return to the liturgical formality of the past? Not at all! I’m too much of a Pentecostal for that. 😊I love the freedom of the flow of the Holy Spirit and I love knowing that the One I call Lord is also the ‘Friend who sticks closer than a brother.’

What I AM looking for is a return to a deep sense of respect and awe for the holy presence of the King of Heaven as we gather in his name. Afterall, this is what made Moses obey the instruction to remove his sandals when standing on holy ground. Such awe humbles the tongue and floods the soul with holy reverence. King David said it so well: ‘Come, my children…and I will teach you to fear the Lord…keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies! Turn away from evil and do good.’

We live in a world of mind-blowingly increased knowledge that is also scarily reduced in wisdom for living. ‘Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.’

A while back now, I began to remind my adult self of my childhood lesson kneeling by my little bed. So – I take a deep breath in gratitude, and with an overflowing heart begin, ‘Dear Lord Jesus…’