03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Why Prayer Is Such a Political Football -- The Lord's Prayer Got Lost in the Mix

Time to dust off my Union Theological Seminary creds and weigh in on prayer.

The founder of the religion, some of whose representatives are emoting onerous and hateful prayers, was one Jesus of Nazareth.

And, try as you might, you will only find one prayer that he taught.

It uses the familiar Aramaic term for father (Abba) to address the Deity. It says Abba's realm is heaven and that earth would do well to emulate heaven's way, which we may infer is peaceful, sharing and humble.

This should be enough to stop the tongue of a clergy person who wants to rain down terror on some enemy or other. It's not that Jesus was not political. It's that his politics were aimed at transforming the world in ways children might better understand than adults.

Now I am sure I could elicit agreement from a hateful preacher if we sat down and talked eye to eye. Either that, or he would have to confess that he is not a very good fundamentalist.

Nothing more fundamental than the only prayer Jesus ever taught. Sadly it has become rote. Few think about it.

This is partly because religion is never content to let well enough alone. It wants an institution, a creed and then a whole lot of language, including prayers galore. We are in fact inundated with all too many pompous, interminable and presumptuous prayers of intercession, invocation, benediction, adoration and so forth and so on. Jesus suggested we should not do "as others do" when it comes to religious observances. But temptation abounds.

When his rag-tag followers asked Jesus how to pray, he just gave them the Lord's Prayer.

I wonder if the prayer wasn't meant to be sung. A while back, I turned Jesus's words into a song. Simple words that say the same thing the spoken prayer does, maybe a bit more directly.

Here is the lyric:

Lord"s Prayer Song