Lord’s Prayer – Part 1

Over the next few days, the devotions will be focused on a common and frequently utilized prayer within the Christian community, the Lord’s Prayer. By examining the words found in this prayer, the opportunity to obtain a deeper understanding may be possible. This will enrich those times when we share in the prayer either as a community of faith or individually.

The most common source of words used in the Lord’s Prayer is found in Matthew 6:9b-13. A shorter version of these words are located in Luke 11:2-4.

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.’

Matthew 6:9b-13 (NIV)

Today’s focus phrase is: “Our Father.” In two short words, Jesus communicates much about the prayer he is teaching the disciples. Jesus’s use of the ward “our” communicates that this is intended to be a prayer of the community. This can mean that Jesus was sharing these words to be utilized as part of the community worship settings. Another possibility may be Jesus is communicating an aspect of God’s nature, God is God not of individuals but of a community of believers.

The second word, “Father,” places before us an insight into God’s nature. Referring to God as Father can be troublesome for individuals who have experienced pain associated with earthly father figures. The word here is used to encapsulate the characteristics of protection, providing, strength, guidance, teaching and support. Imagining these characteristics should evoke feelings of safety and security.

Starting the prayer with these words clearly places God in the center of the prayer and the community of faith’s life. It demonstrates a belief that God is the one who can, and does, provide for all our needs and security. The words remind us that we are part of a much larger entity than ourselves. As the two words are said, we declare that God is god of a multitude, not our own personal god.

Praying Correctly

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.’

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 6:7-15 (NIV)

Understanding and participating in prayer can be a daunting experience for people. There usually is a great concern about “getting it right.” Prayer is much simpler than many people tend to make it. Prayer is a conversation, a conversation between a human person and a loving spirit we name God. When we engage in prayer we are verbalizing what is on our hearts and mind. Prayer should be spoken using words we would use if talking to our closest friend. There is no one way to pray, there is YOUR way to pray.

In the Gospel of Matthew, a scene is recorded where Jesus gives his disciples an idea of what they could talk with God about. Jesus uses language which was common during his lifetime. He also keeps it short and sweet. First he tells God how he views God and his hopes in relation to God and God’s kingdom. Then he speaks to God about his needs to be fed (physically and spiritually) and to be forgiven. Jesus concludes by asking for assistance from God to avoid life’s pitfalls. All of this prayer is said in a corporate manner so that the disciples understand this can be used by them in an individual sense and in a group sense. A simple conversation with God, using the language of the day and not saying words just to say them.

This prayer should alleviate any concerns which you may have about praying. This prayer shows us that there are no difficult rules to follow when praying. Just talk to God who loves you beyond human understanding. Share with God.

Prayers for a Nation

On this day when our nation inaugurates a new President and Vice President. I have chosen to pause my regular Scripture-based devotional. Instead, I am moved by the Spirit to share two prayers from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Book of Common Worship.

The first is for our newly elected and installed government leaders:

O Lord, our governor, your glory shines throughout the world.  We commend our nation to your merciful care, that we may live securely in peace and may be guided by your providence.  Give all in authority the wisdom and strength to know your will and to do it.  Help them remember that they are called to serve the people as lovers of truth and justice; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The second is a prayer for our nation:

Almighty God, you have given us this good land as our heritage.  Make us always remember your generosity and constantly do your will.  Bless our land with honest industry, sound learning, and an honorable way of life.  Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way.  Make us who come from many nations with many different languages a united people.  Defend our liberties and give those whom we have entrusted with the authority of government the spirit of wisdom, that there might be justice and peace in our land.  When times are prosperous, let our hearts be thankful; and, in troubled times, do not let our trust in you fail.  We ask all this through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

May our prayers be heard as we begin on a new path.

(Photo courtesy of kiplinger.com)

A New Year Prayer

This New Year’s Day, I have chosen to share a prayer as today’s devotion instead of using my normal format. My understanding of the Gospel is that it all is about love. The problems between people can be traced to an absence of love demonstrated in action and not solely in emotions and/or words. So I found this prayer which shares my hope for this new year.

A NEW YEAR PRAYER FOR LOVE

Dear God, thank you that you are a loving, gracious God. Thank you that you’ve offered us forgiveness and the gift of new life in you. Thank you that your love is perfect, it never fails, and that nothing can separate us from your love.

We pray that our lives would be filled and overflowing with the power of your love so we can make a difference in this world and bring honor to you. We ask for your help in reminding us that the most important things are not what we do outwardly, it’s not based on any talent or gift, but the most significant thing we can do in this life is simply to love you and choose to love others.

Help us to love as you love. Fill us with your Spirit so that we can choose what is best. We are weak Lord, but we know also, that even when we are weak, you are strong within us. Thank you that it is not all up to us. Thank you that you equip us to face each day with the power of your love, your forgiveness, and your grace. We love you Lord, and we need you today, and every day. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Source: Christianity.com

This is my prayer for each of you and the world. May 2021 be filled with the love from the source of all love, God.

Hope In Despair

Hear my prayer, Lord;
    let my cry for help come to you.
Do not hide your face from me
    when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me;
    when I call, answer me quickly.

For my days vanish like smoke;
    my bones burn like glowing embers.
My heart is blighted and withered like grass;
    I forget to eat my food.
In my distress I groan aloud
    and am reduced to skin and bones.
I am like a desert owl,
    like an owl among the ruins.
I lie awake; I have become
    like a bird alone on a roof.
All day long my enemies taunt me;
    those who rail against me use my name as a curse.
For I eat ashes as my food
    and mingle my drink with tears
10 because of your great wrath,
    for you have taken me up and thrown me aside.
11 My days are like the evening shadow;
    I wither away like grass.

12 But you, Lord, sit enthroned forever;
    your renown endures through all generations.

Psalm 102:1-12 (NIV)

This year has been filled with times and situations which can bring great despair to people. The last nine months of dealing with the effects of a global pandemic has taken a noticeable toll on the mental health of our nation. The economic distress which is a result of the pandemic has placed many businesses and people in a perilous state. Social unrest, unmasking of inequality, and dangerous human interactions have caused us to question our national institutions and behaviors. A very contentious election cycle has shaken our understanding of democracy and the principles which have sustained our nation. We cry out for an end to this pandemic. We beg for a better way to live out the words of the Declaration of Independence in regard to all people being equal. Our desire for honesty and adherence to the democratic principles which have made our nation a beacon of hope in the past, leads us to shout a heartfelt plea. All of this year’s events drive us to our knees in prayer and lament before our Lord.

The words of the psalmist found in Psalm 102 can be our words as we reflect on this year. The psalmist writes from a point of great despair. This psalm begins with a plea to the Lord to listen to this musical prayer. There is a sense of urgency found in the plea. Then the psalmist lists all the afflictions in life which lead to despair. Following the listing of hardship and feelings, the psalmist shifts direction by acknowledging the greatness of the Lord, a greatness which extends throughout all generations. Clearly the psalmist is raising up the source of hope in the midst of despair.

As I pointed out, this can easily become our own song. We can clearly list before the Lord all aspects of life which lead us to despair now. Our list will be both personal and corporate in nature. We desire deeply the Lord’s willingness to hear us and to respond quickly. In coming before the Lord with our pleas, we are affirming that we believe the Lord is great enough to turn the events of this year around. The greatness the Lord has displayed in previous generations is still present today. This greatness is truly what gives us hope.