the essence and beauty of the Lord’s Prayer

The disciples asked Jesus “how to” pray, and this was the answer –

 Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

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

Give us this day 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 evil.

(Matthew 6:9-13)

Now in our modern times, we are so accustomed to “how to” manual that the publisher and authors of “For Dummies” have been laughing their way to the banks too often. Indeed “For Dummies” have been essentially helpful.

When the disciple ask to Jesus “how to”, were they expecting some sort of instruction manual? For example “Ten secrets to successful prayers”, “How to make sure God always answer your prayers”, “Do you feel God is not listening?”

Probably yes. People are creatures of habit – old habits die hard. People had been accustomed to instructions and manuals. The Jews had their laws and the pagan had their procedures for idolatry.

The disciples must be puzzled if Jesus understood their request! It would be human naturally to imagine the disciples were expecting some sort of prayer methodology that should had fixed anything and everything and help boost their faith and ego. Remember that incident where the disciple were “red faced” why they could not cast out certain demon as they were expecting they should have the power and authority to do so (Mark 9:28).

Let’s do some self-reflection for a moment – how do we people approach prayer from our own human point of view?

For example, whenever the word “prayer” is mentioned, our human minds are quick to put these two words together “prayer “and “request”.

Man’s religious expectation have conformed our human minds to associate prayers with request and petitions. Thus we are prone to “asking” God through prayers and expecting God to deliver on our terms.

Just imagine a simplified man-made prayer guide –

Step 1    – pray / ask God for something

Step 2    – you should get what you asked for

Step 3    – if you failed to get what you asked for, try again

Step 4    – if you still don’t get what you ask for, try harder, and pray longer and louder.

Step 5    – if your prayers are still not answered, get two or three more brothers and sisters to pray together  because Jesus said “if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:19). Right – but in real life situation we know how difficult to find someone who will always agree with you. Sometimes people even struggle with internal conflict within a singular identity – have you met people who are perfectly fickle minded? A familiar modern day statement “Agree to disagree” and the people who use it most often ? politicians.

Step 6 – finally if you’re convinced God is not listening; try a different language! Or try different tone!

Step 7 – if still nothing happens, pick up your phone and call the Head Priest or Senior Pastor! Call the Bishop if you like but chances are he’s usually not at his desk. Only God knows where is he.

Sounds funny but are you aware people do that! We can be thankful that languages, gesture, procedures and personality are not crucial to our prayers to God. Why is that so? Let’s draw our attention to a tiny mini statement Jesus said about prayer that we often missed out –

“Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

(Matthew 6:8)

Can you believe that! How does God knows what I need even before I ask? Because God is God! He knows! He even knows how many strings of hairs you’ve got! (Luke 12:7)

Therefore before we pray, let’s take some time to reflect and ponder Jesus’ model prayer guide–

 

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

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

Give us this day 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 evil.”

 

For a moment let’s put aside all of our own human expectations about prayers and think if the Lord’s Prayer is a kind of litmus test of our friendship and relationship with God in the context of Amos 3:3

“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”

If we were to follow Jesus’ teaching and pray according to the Lord’s Prayer, right away we realized we are being challenged upfront in these areas –

1. Who do we honor and respect as the utmost important person in our life?

2. Our will vs the will of God. People have the tendency to establish their own kingdom and rule.

3. Can we trust God to provide for us? The modern man relies on agencies for work placement but have we considered where to place our gifts and talents for the Lord?

4. Are we prepared to forgive, even in situations we’ve been falsely accused? Or in the even we know we have the upper hand?

5. Life is full of choices and decisions; do we have the habit of praying and trusting God for directions?

“The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” (Proverbs 22:3)

“for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.” (Proverbs 24:6)

In our daily life we face conflicts and intangible warfare which affects our minds and emotions – we need God’s wisdom to guide us. Our human life is actually highly complex beyond our own management.

Are we prepared to trust God in our daily life?

How much do we understand and appreciate the Lord’s Prayer is a reflection of our relationship and friendship with God. The beauty and essence of the Lord’s Prayer is in our fellowship and friendship with God and in God.

The Lord’s Prayer is part of our daily fellowship time with God. To build friendship with God we need time and it may take our entire life time to understand what a friend we have in Jesus.

In our modern urbanized society, we fellowship with friends and foe because after many years of interactions we’re finally confused who are our real friends. Human friendships without Jesus Christ are always tested through materials and economic valuations and clouded with hidden agendas. People become weary and careful of “wasting time” in unfruitful friendships and thus people learn not to trust in our dark cold world.

But in Christ we have no fear because our friendship in God is guaranteed to transcend time, space and conditions. Our fellowship in God does not need to take place inside a physical temple, and it is not expected for us to travel on a pilgrimage to holy mountain(s) to meet the master. Our friendship with our Father in heaven is based on God’s unconditional love, forgiveness and acceptance towards us.

In Christ we have no fear in trusting the friendship of God. We can trust that God have good intentions toward us – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Our prayer time with God and in God have no time schedule although most people will feel the urge to pray in times of need. Do we realize in times of “no need”, God is always available for fellowship and we can take time to appreciate God?

Prayer, fellowship and friendship with God and in God can happen within that same time frame.

Let’s walk with Jesus.

FOLLOW CHRIST TODAY