May 9th 2012 No comments yet
I learned the Lord’s Prayer in the locker room. From age 7 until I was in college, in whatever sport I was playing, my coaches all did the same thing before a game. They would tell us to “bring it in, grab a knee,” and to “pray as the Lord Jesus Christ taught us”¦.Our Father, who art in Heaven“ As my teammates and I recited the prayer in unison, we would invariably crescendo into a pre-game frenzied chorus of “the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever. Amen!!!” This was usually followed by an equally loud dog-cussing tirade of “let’s grind their heads in the dirt,” or some variation thereof, as we ran out onto the field.
I didn’t attend Christian Schools. Uh, Right.
The Lord’s Prayer, back then, was my talisman, a spoken good luck charm, magic words that ensured victory if I said them loudly and passionately enough.Â Then, by God’s grace through faith in Jesus, He saved me, and I began to see His Word with new eyes and hear with new ears.
Since then, one of the things the Lord has been teaching me is this vast, wonderful, sometimes mysterious and sometimes misunderstood, divine and earthy language of prayer.Â Over the years, I have come to see “the Lord’s Prayer” completely and dynamically different from when I first memorized those words spoken by Jesus to his disciples as recorded in Matthew 6:8-13 and Luke 11:2-4.
Here’s what I am learning:
- Anytime we pray, we are really answering God. Â God always speaks first! He does so through His Word, His Spirit, His Body (the local and universal church), and through your own circumstances in life. He has placed you in every relationship in your life (or has allowed you to “choose” some). All your moments and all they entail are before Him, and He is speaking to you! Always in love, always in grace, always in mercy, always in a redemptive manner, and always to have you come to Him and be with Him and give Him glory.
- God knows what we need before we ask, even before you realize the need (Matthew 6:8). He provides the Holy Spirit as our “auto-correct” when we bumble and stumble in prayer (Romans 8:26)! How cool is that?!!
- When Jesus first suggested that we pray in this certain manner, He did so emphasizing that it not be done to look good before others, but that we do so in the secret places of our lives and heart. Also, God is fully aware of my need before I ever know it myself (Matthew 6). And that our Father in heaven delights in blessing us out of His goodness and mercy when we seek Him persistently above all other things that clamber for our attention (Matthew 6 & Luke 11).
- Jesus intended for his followers to see His disciple’s prayer as a model, a way of remembering my daily needs, a kind of eternal awareness checklist, if you will. He never intended it to become a memorized Charlie Brown’s teacher-sounding invocation to signal God that I was serious about telling Him what I needed Him to do.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus is actually giving us the priorities for each day of our life. He is asking us to consider (meditate and be aware of) these specific things or categories each day to help order and orient all the crazy stuff of our lives before Him. Here they are:
Our Father ““ It’s not about me. It’s about my Father”¦.And I’m not an only child; I have brothers and sisters to consider today.
Who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your Name ““ Our Father is the one true God of the universe! He is sovereign over all. He has given this day to me and He is at work in my life and everywhere in the world this day. Am I aware? Do I look for His glory, grace, and mercy in the stuff of this day? Only eyes of faith will see.
Your Kingdom come ““ Rule my heart today, Lord. Teach me that I am one day closer to eternity, when King Jesus, our Redeemer, will reign among us! This day is about Kingdom preparation!
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven ““ When God says it in heaven, it is done fully and immediately by the mighty angels (Psalm 103:20-21). Lord, help me to obey you and your Holy Spirit in the same way as the angels! As you lead me today, help me to follow and obey.
Give us this day our daily bread ““ God gives us our abilities and talents for work. He provides my source of income by which I purchase food, shelter, and clothing (What else does Jesus say about these things in Matthew 6?!) Let today’s provision be enough for today! Remember what happened when the Children of Israel gathered more than a day’s worth of manna (Exodus 16:19-20; except on the day before the Sabbath)?
And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors ““ Each day offenses, trespasses, debts, or wrongs, big and small, will be committed against me. Past offenses can hurt me in a real and new way today. But who is ruling my heart? Where is my focus? Let it be on how, in Christ, God forgave me everything! May that grace guide me to forgive those that have or will offend me (Ephesians 4:32).
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil ““ Rhetorical; of course God never leads any of us into temptation, but He does provide a way of escape for us (1 Cor.10:13). Therefore, I am to be alert and sober each day because evil is real and sin crouches at my door. However, in Jesus, He delivers us from every trouble, redeems every mistake, and forgives every sin!
For Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, forever Amen ““ Again, it’s not about me. It’s about God! Jesus probably did not say this but it was likely added by scribes and used in the early church as a sort of creed or song. Nonetheless, it certainly is consistent with what Jesus said about His Heavenly Father. When you say, Amen, you are basically saying, Yes, Lord, Yes! I agree with you!
Even though the prayer traditionally concludes in verse 13, if you study the Word, you’ll realize that Jesus emphasizes our need to forgive others in verses 14-15! Jesus underscores the vital importance of forgiving others! Jesus never needed to repeat anything, but when He did”¦.well, you know!Â
So that’s it. Jesus declares and prioritizes our daily needs in this road map of prayer. Therefore, when the apostle Paul instructed us to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17), he was essentially saying to let each of the precepts of Jesus’ model of prayer define your approach to God and others each day of your life! That’s how Jesus told us to pray!
No need for locker room limericks! Amen.
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