September 25th, 2009
Prayer is the breath of the Christian life. It is a meaningful expression of our faith, hope & love. With each word spoken and heard prayer connects us with the heart of God. It has been said that, Nothing is more vital than prayer in Christian existence, and few things are more vulnerable to neglect.
Most lifelong church-goers memorized the Lord’s Prayer sometime between first communion, confirmation or My first 30-days with Jesus. If we failed to learn it through the intentional discipleship, indoctrination or Sunday School we probably memorized it while sitting in the pews week after week while reading the children’s series of Arch books by Concordia.
You can probably recite it as well as I can…
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The passage came to my mind at the close of my day and I posted it to my twitter account. Then I read the assigned devotion in Forward Movement Day by Day and was delighted to find it there again. So I revisited the verse and read the Lord’s Prayer more slowly, intentionally. Using the internet I visited my favorite online bible resource, Youversion and switched the setting to The Message to get a fresh look at the scripture. Now I don’t always like the way The Message treats the original text, but as paraphrase it does have a way of making my mind think again about the meaning and intent of a given passage.
Beginning in Verse 7 it read… “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:
Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are.
Set the world right; Do what’s best— as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Eugene Peterson continued his paraphrase of Matthew 6:7-15 this way: “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others.”
As I let the words soak in and I prayed accordingly, my memory took me back to a few Christian teachings and resources on the subject of prayer. Yes, these people have their methods and programs but for me they were powerful. They were people like the late Andrew Murray who wrote, With Christ in the School of Prayer and Larry Lea whose books I read back in the back in the 80’s. The Holy Spirit revealed to Pastor Lea seven parts to the Lord’s Prayer: 1) Paternal 2) Presence 3) Priority 4) Provision 5) Pardon 6) Power 7) Praise. His book, Could you not tarry One Hour? presents his prayer guide in great detail.
I think it’s time for me to take on his prayer challenge once again. Will you join me? Feel free to post your prayers on Kindle in your own prayer journal or create a prayer group for your church, bible study or ministry. As God speaks to you and you continue in your journey of faith, come back here to post a new comment or send me a message using twitter. Tell me about your experience and let us pray with you.