“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” From the age of about eight to 15, I always thought this excessively sibilant phrase was vaguely to do with not playing on building sites or wandering onto our neighbour’s lawn.
We learnt the Lord’s prayer as a song at primary school. It was a pleasant, relaxing tune, featuring bread (nice), heaven (obviously nice) and “ Lord”, an unknown quantity but seemed to feature in a lot of jolly good songs.
I didn’t know what it was all about, and although my dad said God was all made up, I didn’t ask too many questions. I didn’t go to church and I always preferred “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace” anyway.
According to a new survey, I am among a dying breed of people who know the words to the Lord’s prayer. Archbishop Rowan Williams said it is a vital part of culture, and that young people should know it to understand references to it in life beyond the church. The culture he would very much like to remain “predominantly Christian”.
But I would say tosh. It’s just a prayer that someone else wrote with social control in mind. Surely the real God would rather hear our own freestyle prayers than hear the same old off-the-peg thing again and again? "Word up, God mate - chill out about all my bad shit and make everything tickety-boo. Amen." That sort of thing.
The same survey also said that a higher proportion of children say religion is important to them than 40 years ago. Is it the recession? Immigration? Liberation from indoctrination?
Anyway, let us not fret over our children’s moral fibre falling away because they don’t know the Lord’s prayer (or the national anthem for that matter). We have much bigger things to worry about. Like teaching them to write and think for themselves.