This is a copy of my article in the JANUARY 2016 edition of the Billericay ‘Around Town Magazine’
According to Digital Cinema Media (DCM), the company that manages advertising in the big cinema chains, The Lord’s Prayer is subversive and offensive! In the weeks leading up to Christmas, UK Cinema’s banned a 57 second advert for The Lord’s Prayer (which consisted, simply, of several people reciting different parts of the prayer). The Church of England hoped to coincide the adverts release with the latest Star Wars film ‘The Force Awakens’ which would have guaranteed a large audience of young and old alike.
Apparently, according to DCM, people go to the cinema to be entertained, not offended. However, I’m sure you’d agree with me when I say there’s already a lot of cinema advertising that is offensive and subversive. Far from being value-free, it tells us what we need, shapes our hungers and tempts us to spend money we don’t have. From fast cars and seductive fragrances to chocolate bars and fizzy drinks, the advert says: ‘You must have this and have it now! Here’s where fulfilment and purpose lie!’ All advertising, it seems to me, is about personal values and attitudes – it’s precisely what advertisers want to influence as they try to persuade us to buy their product.
It’s an intriguing debate. Especially when world leaders and politicians have been encouraging us to Pray for Tunisia, Mali and Lebanon, Paris and San Bernardino, to name but a few. Many national newspapers have emblazoned the word ‘pray’ on their front pages asking us to pray for victims of terrorism. In the midst of this, The Lord’s Prayer is the only prayer many people know and use. Over 2,000 of us prayed it on Billericay High Street on Remembrance Sunday and I didn’t sense anyone being offended on that occasion.
Some people reject prayer as a fatalistic exercise, suggesting that if God is sovereign, then he needs no prompting from us! The writer Leonard Ravenhill offers this thought: “Prayer is not an argument with God to persuade him to move things our way, but an exercise by which we are enabled … to move ourselves his way.“ When we pray, we often find ourselves listening to God to see what his next move is for us, not us influencing His strategy. I know that many of you pray The Lord’s Prayer on a daily basis – and not all of you are regular church attendees.
On the off-chance you may not be familiar with The Lord’s Prayer, these are the words: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name; Your kingdom come, Your will be done; on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation: but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are Yours, now and forever. Amen.
Many of you believe prayer can make a difference, because prayer is a powerful force – on a spiritual, as well as an emotional and psychological, level. Have you ever thought of the freedom prayer brings? We can: travel to any part of the world; stand alongside anyone we choose; pray about any situation for which we are concerned; enter into any circumstance in which we have an interest. Such is the tremendous privilege of prayer.
At the beginning of this New Year, dare I encourage you to resolve to be subversive and offensive on a daily basis? After all, God can only respond to our requests, when we share with Him, intimately and honestly, what is on our hearts. What have you got to lose? What might you gain? If you want to know more about prayer, or need help praying, why not visit the ‘Just Pray’ website at http://www.justpray.uk who have some very helpful ideas.
May God’s richest blessing be upon you and your family for all that a New Year will bring your way.