The Lord’s Prayer has been in the news this week and has received lots of publicity. And all because a Church of England advert for the new Just Pray website has been banned from being shown in cinemas because it might be offensive to people of other faiths or no faith.
The outrage would suggest that the cinemas have got that wrong. Critics of all faiths and none have condemned the decision, but it’s probably the case that more heat than light has been generated in the debate.
I guess that it’s likely that more people have watched the advert in two days on YouTube than would have seen it in the cinema on its day of release – and certainly more people have noticed it – so it’s probably already been an effective piece of publicity.
Much of the debate has been questioning how the Lord’s Prayer can be considered offensive. It would seem, though, that perhaps we should be asking ourselves whether prayer that is effective isn’t by it’s nature offensive.
Prayer that doesn’t challenge us to see the world in a new way, to change the way we behave, to re-evaluate our relationships with God and with each other, to commit ourselves to be intolerant of prejudice, poverty, injustice, violence, war, indifference to the sufferings of other, exploitation, materialism, cruelty or anything else that sets people and nations against each other is simply a waste of our time and energy and not pleasing to God.
Pray that does not change the world is not prayer.
It is a shame that it will not be seen in cinemas because there will be people there who have never prayed the Lord’s Prayer, never heard it prayed and who might be challenged by its radical petitions to change their world.
You can see the video here.