Jim Lo ~ What the Lord's Prayer Teaches Me about Prayer

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My eyes slowly force themselves open.

From between the warm cozy sheets
I peek at the digital clock.
The illuminated numbers
tell me that it is around 5:00 am.

I stretch under the sheets…

I want to ignore the time on the clock;
flashing at me to announce
that I should be waking up.

But routine causes me
to throw the covers off my body.

The cold air hits me
and quickly wakens me up.

My mind and my body
are now in tune with each other.

The cold has a way of doing that.

I am now ready
to lift up a prayer to God.

The words come easily.

They were memorized many years ago.

Our Father who art in Heaven…
may Your name be hallowed
in my duties today…
as Your name is hallowed in heaven.

Thy kingdom come…
may You truly reign in my life
on earth as You rule heaven.

Thy will be done…
in my work…. teaching… advising…
as your will is done perfectly in heaven

Give me daily bread…
for my physical strength…
for all my needs this day.

Forgive me my sins….
including my actions and intent…
and forgive others
as you have forgiven me.

Lead me not into temptation…
do not let sin overwhelm me,
but give me victory this day.

Delivery me from the evil one…
protect me from physical
and even spiritual harm

For thine is the Kingdom…
I recognize Your sovereign control
of my life.

For thine is the power….
I recognize Your ability
to do these things.

For thine is the glory…
I give You credit for every answer.

In Jesus Name, amen.

Notice the following Truths:

The first petition,
“Give us this day our daily bread,
is a prayer for our present need.

The second petition,
“Forgive us our debts”
is a prayer for our past sin.

And the third petition,
“lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil”
is a prayer for our future welfare
and goodness.

In other words, the three petitions
take the past, the present and the future
and informs us
that we are to lay them
at the foot of the cross.

But also notice the following:

According to William Barclay,
when we pray the first petition
we are to think of God the Father
who is Creator and sustainer
of all life.

When we pray the second petition,
the prayer of forgiveness,
we are to think of God the Son,
the Savior and Redeemer.

And when we pray the third petition,
we are to think of God
the Holy Spirit, our Guide,
and Helper and Protector.

Saying the Lord’s Prayer
has become part of my routine of late.

I pray it as soon as I wake up.

You and I cannot fail
to see that the Lord’s Prayer
begins by giving God His own
and His proper place.

The first three petitions
of the prayer are for the hallowing
of God name,
the coming of God’s Kingdom,
and the doing of God’s will.

A great fault of prayer
is that it can become self-centered
and self-seeking.

We can be so busy thinking
of what we want
that we never think of what God wants.

We can be so concerned
about our own desires
that we never think of God’s will.

We can be so busy talking to God
that we never give God
the chance to talk to us.

This is why the Lord Prayer
begins the way it does.

Jesus taught us that we can address God
as “Father”,
telling us that we have a unique
relationship with Him.

Catch the Truth being presented,
The Father is first…
then come the children.

The foundation of prayer
is understanding this reality…
I am not first,
you are not first…..
God is first.

The Lord’s prayer therefore begins
by putting, not us,
but God the Father
at the center of the picture.

The circumference can only be right
when the center is right.

All other things can only
take their proper place
when God is given His proper place.

“Our Father”- is to be hallowed

To be hallowed means
to remove something
from the category of the common
and placing it in the category
of the holy.

God is holy-love…
not our santa claus…
not our servant…
not subservient to us.

There are three implications
that are to be attached to this
term hallowed…
as it relates to us
and our relation to God-
distinction,
dedication
and devotion.

Being hallowed, first of all,
speaks of distinction:

This is the meaning implied
in Jesus’ statement
that the Temple sanctifies the gold
of the Temple
and the altar sanctifies
the gift on the altar.

In other words,
the gold used in the construction
of the temple was distinct
from all other gold in that
it was set apart for God.

Likewise the animals
sacrificed upon the altar
were distinct from other animals
in that they were set apart for God.

In other words, God is distinct…
there is no other like Him…
He is truly Lord of lord
and King of kings.

Our part?

When we say the Lord’s Prayer
we should be saying
we recognize
that God is distinct!

Being hallowed secondly,
speaks of dedication:

Mark Copeland explains it this way,

The Bible tells us that
the “people of God
are sanctified by the blood of Christ,
by the Word of God
and by the Holy Spirit.”

Through the blood, the Word and the Spirit,
people are called upon
and enabled to dedicate their lives,
no longer to the service of sin,
but to the service of God.

Our part…when we pray the Lord’s prayer
we should be saying
we are willing
to dedicate ourselves to God.

And being hallowed also speaks of devotion:

This is the meaning implied
in the words of the apostle Peter
when he encouraged believers
to sanctify God in their hearts (1 Peter 3:15)

Our hearts are to be so
completely devoted to God
that we are willing
to do His bidding
willingly and joyfully.

By doing this
we are hallowing His Name.

For God’s name to be hallowed
is to acknowledge God
in His holiness as being distinct
from all others and therefore ,
to be revered.

It is to acknowledge God
as worthy of our dedication and devotion
and, therefore to be adored.

Or simply put…

to hallow God’s Name
is to revere and adore Him
and such reverence and adoration
are the substance of true worship.

Reflecting on the phrase “Our Father”
reminded me of the following
realities of God:

God is person
not the idols like what I saw in Cambodia
not like the idols spoken of in the Psalms.

God is personal
in other words, He knows me and He ministers to me as an individual with individual needs.

God is to be praised

The Hebrews had long been concerned
with the proper approach to God.

The rites of purification
which they prescribed on certain
occasions were intended to prepare them
for drawing near to God.

Therefore to praise God is
in a special sense to be conscious
of His holiness….
recognizing that He is righteous,
absolutely good, and
totally pure.

God is parent and as parent He is
paternal in the sense
that we are all His children.

But He is also Pateir,
the Greek word for Father…
That in God we can be adopted…

Giving us full rights as His children…

Giving us full resources

Giving us full regard
in that He regards…favors us as being
fully loved,
accepted
and included into His family.

As parent God is present-

Phillip Keller,
“A layman looks at the Lord’s Prayer” –
“…prior to the time of Jesus,
God was regarded as someone
remote and august in His demeanor.
He sat in the high and holy place,
a stern judge behind the hard,
harsh bar of the law.
Only with fear and foreboding
did any man dare to
address himself to such
a powerful potentate.”

He provides,
He protects –
God is powerful.

And quickly connected with the phrase,
“Our Father” is the phrase,
“Thy Kingdom”.

We are not here on earth to
establish my kingdom…
but God’s Kingdom.

The Kingdom has a ruler

The King is to be respected-
to be held in esteem and honor:
to show regard or consideration for
to relate or have reference to.

The Kingdom has rules

The Kingdom “now”
is invisible
it is inward
it is loving
it is graceful

The kingdom has rebellers

“Thy will be done”
A matter of submission
A matter of seeking
A matter of stretching

 

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Dr. Jim Lo, along with his wife Roxie, served for years as a missionary with The Wesleyan Church. Professor of Intercultural Studies at Indiana Wesleyan University, known to students as “Umfundisi,” Jim Lo has served as Dean of Chapel for many years and returns this fall to the classroom. He remains an avid runner.

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