Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thoughts on the Lord's Prayer

Our Father…OUR father. Our FATHER. With the very first 2 words of the Lord’s prayer, we’re acknowledging two important truths. God is OUR God, he is with us, he is for us, he was before us, he will be after us, he created us, he wants a relationship with us, we are his and he is ours. And when we use the word Father, we’re acknowledging a family relationship. Actually, the word Jesus used when he prayed was Abba, which implies a closer relationship than just father. It’s more like daddy. And as we all know, any guy with a functioning reproductive system can be a father, but someone is only a daddy through a kind, caring, loving relationship with one’s child. God is that loving parent. Our Father.

Who art in heaven. Our heavenly father, our heavenly Abba, our heavenly daddy, is in heaven and has prepared a place for each of us. What great news, and what a hope for us! Someday, we will be able to spend eternity with our father in heaven.

Hallowed be thy name. Hallowed…when I was a little kid, I thought we were saying hollow is your name. God’s name does ring pretty hollow to a lot of people, doesn’t it? His promises, his blessings, his presence, his forgiveness, all of it can very easily become shallow and hollow if we don’t continually remember who God is, how much he loves us, and how much we depend on him for all we have and all we are. Hallowed be thy name…hallowed is just a fancy word meaning holy. Holy is just a fancy word meaning set apart for a special purpose. God is holy, and through his love and forgiveness he has made each of us holy too. We are set apart as his children, called for the special purpose of spreading his word and loving our neighbors.

Thy kingdom come. God’s kingdom will come when Christ comes again, but God’s kingdom already has come. We as Christians know the tension of living in God’s kingdom now, living in the day to day knowing that Christ breaks into our lives in new and unexpected ways, and looking forward to the ultimate coming in the future.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. God is all powerful—through him, any and all things can happen. But God calls us to do his will as well, to be his hands and feet here on earth. Many times, we’re not sure what God’s will is. Things aren’t always black and white, and that’s why we pray. We ask God what his will is, and for the strength and courage to carry his will out.

Give us this day our daily bread. In the US, the richest country in the world, it’s easy to lose sight of how much we really depend on God for everything we have. God does provide us with all we need, and for those of us who have been blessed with more than we need, we are called to be God’s hands again in giving to others in need. Bless us Lord, that we might be a blessing to others.

And forgive us our trespasses…For ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. In the Lutheran tradition, we begin each worship service with confession, because we’re all in need of forgiveness. As much as we can try to get it right, we’ll never succeed, because our old rebellious sinful selves are there at our core. We depend wholly and fully on God’s grace to forgive us, even though we have done nothing to deserve it.

As we forgive those who trespass against us. Here’s the flip side. If we expect God to forgive us, we can’t just go and hold grudges against other people too. We are called to forgive ALL who have wronged us, not just those who say they’re sorry or those who we think deserve our forgiveness. God acted first and showed us love and forgiveness while we were still sinners—he calls us to do the same with our fellow human beings.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. God doesn’t tempt us with sin, he will not put us to the test. We do a pretty good job of leading ourselves to temptation sometimes, don’t we? We ask God for guidance in staying out of situations that would feed our sin. This is another powerful use of the tool of prayer. Just the short prayer “God give me strength,” when facing a temptation. God hears us, and he will help us.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. God is the king of the universe, as well as the king of our hearts. Because of his goodness, because of his grace, because of his power, he deserves our thanks and our praise constantly. When we live our lives with joy—what better way to acknowledge God’s amazing power?

Amen. Amen is an ancient Hebrew word meaning “let it be so.” We say amen at the end of prayers trusting in God’s power to answer prayer. It’s the ultimate affirmative to God, the final yes.

Do me a favor.

Next time you're in church and say the Lord's Prayer, pay close attention to the words. Don’t let the familiarity of the prayer take away from the meaning. This is prayer as Jesus taught it, communication with our heavenly daddy, from his loving children.

Amen. Let it be so…


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