Read Along with Pastor Matt: Simply Christian–Prayer

Posted: January 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

“This, then, is how you should pray:
       ” ‘Our Father in heaven,
       hallowed be your name,

       your kingdom come,
       your will be done,
       on earth as it is in heaven.

       Give us today our daily bread.

       And forgive us our debts,
       as we also have forgiven our debtors.

       And lead us not into temptation, 
       but deliver us from the evil one.’

Anyone raised in a church has prayed some version of this prayer at some point.  It is “The Lord’s Prayer.”  It was Jesus’ answer to the disciples question, “How should we pray?”

Bishop N.T. Wright comments that the prayer “…is simple, in the sense that a small child can pray the prayer…but it’s hard in the demands it makes as we go on with it.”

The Bishop is worth quoting at length when he writes,

“The prayer is…a way of saying to the Father: Jesus has…caught me in the net of his good news.  The prayer says: I want to be a part of his kingdom-movement.  I find myself drawn into his heaven-on-earth way of living.   I want to be part of his bread-for-the-world agenda, for myself and for others.  I need forgiveness for myself–from sin, from debt, from every weight around my neck–and I intend to live with forgiveness in my heart in my own dealings with others. (Notice how remarkable it is that, at the heart of the prayer, we commit ourselves to live in a particular way, a way we find difficult.) And because I live in the real world, where evil is still powerful, I need protecting and rescuing.  And, in and through it all, I acknowledge and celebrate the Father’s kingdom, power and glory.”

Amen!

Through this prayer, we are committing ourselves to living a life of glorifying God by, among other things, living a life of forgiveness, which, according to Wright, bring us into the sphere where heaven and earth overlap. 

It commits us to stand at this earth-heaven “fault line, being shaped by the Jesus who knelt in Gethsemane, groaning in travail, holding heaven and earth together like someone trying to tie two pieces of rope with people tugging at the other ends to pull them apart.”

The prayer is more than a battle cry for Kingdom warriors, it is also a deep well of healing for us all as are many rote prayers that we can commit to memory.

Wright exhorts us to slow down and dwell on these prayers.  He cautions that the modern impulse to find healing by focusing deeply within ourselves quickly leads to narcissism but that focusing on the glory of God celebrated in classic prayers leads us deeper into His presence where we may find true healing.

So, in sum, why pray? And why pray The Lord’s Prayer regularly?

The Lord’s Prayer is one that we should pray daily because it is our anthem of allegiance and battle cry while this, and other God glorifying prayers, lead us into the healing that comes only from the Triune God who loves us so madly that He created us, sustains us and even bled for us.

Next Wednesday, “The Book That God Breathed.”

If you want more on the Lord’s Prayer then I suggest you download Scot McKnight’s talk at Mars Hill Bible Church a while back. 

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