When Jesus’s disciples asked him how to pray, he recited a sample that has come to be known as the “Lord’s Prayer,” or the Pater Noster (Our Father). In it the pray-er addresses God as Father and asks him to bring his kingdom down to earth, to accomplish his will far and wide. The pray-er asks, too, for the daily provision of food, forgiveness, and freedom from temptation and evil. Then he concludes with an attribution of power and glory to God. Amen.
If Jesus told us to request these things of God, surely the implication is that God loves to give them, do them. But why, then, is his kingdom so obviously not breaking in? Why does temptation continue to trip us up? Why does evil still run rampant, both inside us and outside?
Singer-songwriter Corey Kilgannon finds the Lord’s Prayer hard to pray sometimes—so in the tradition of the Jewish psalms, he wrote his own “Doubter’s Prayer,” which engages Jesus’s prayer rubric with sincere questioning and seeking. To the line “Our Father, who art in heaven,” he responds, “Why are you so far away?” In response to “thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” he insists that God clarify what it means for earth to manifest heaven—what would that even look like? Is it really possible? Regarding God’s promise to lead us out of temptation, he wonders, “Were you being honest when you said” it?
The prayer ends on a note of humility, with the speaker acknowledging his crookedness, asking forgiveness for his doubt, and begging for the presence of God to be made real to him.
“Doubter’s Prayer” is an expression of healthy doubt—honest and straightforward but ultimately arising from trust in the character of God. (If there were no trust, no expectation that God hears and responds to the prayers of his people, what would be the point of voicing frustrations to him?) The speaker brings his struggles before God in a spirit of openness, seeking understanding, seeking connection.
The demo version of “Doubter’s Prayer” (from the video above), with backing vocals by Trella, can be downloaded for free from NoiseTrade as part of the album Bleeding Out Slow (B Sides). Tips are welcome, and in fact half of the proceeds the artist receives will be donated to Music and Memory, a nonprofit organization that aims to bring music into the lives of the elderly.
I really like the minimalistic sound of the demo, with its guitar-only instrumentation. But the song was also recorded with a fuller sound—guitar, piano, cello, percussion, etc.—as part of the EP Hospital Hymns, which you can stream using the SoundCloud player below or purchase here.