The Most Corporately-Prayed Prayer in the History of Prayer

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July 16, 2018

Matthew 6: 9-13 NIV

““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.’”

CONSIDER THIS

We come now to perhaps the most prayed prayer in the history of the world. We know it as “The Lord’s Prayer.” Roman Catholics call it the “Our Father.”

Let’s do a high level overview today and a deeper dive on days following.

Our: the prayer is relational. Though we may be praying this prayer alone in our prayer closet, we never approach God as an individual. Our praying is always both personal and communal as opposed to the way we are primarily formed by our Western culture, which is individualized and private. God sees us personally but not outside of our relatedness to others. It’s why forgiveness is so critical—coming later in the prayer.

Father: PERSONAL. The typical way a Jewish Prayer would open was, “Blessed are you O Lord our God, the King of the Universe…” Remember, Jesus is not merely teaching us to pray like he prays. He is bringing us into his relationship with “our Father.” Father language is not intended to attach gender to God. The word Father signifies family, character or nature and role.

In Heaven: PRESENCE. Where is God? From the great fall in the Garden, God has dwelt in the realm of the heavens. The holiness of God could not abide the presence of our corrupted humanity. It is not because God despised humanity that he departed from our presence in Eden. It was because he loved us. The unadulterated presence of his holiness would have consumed us in our fallenness. And we

Hallowed be thy name: POWER. It makes sense that “Our Father” would be followed by “Holy is your name.” We must remain mindful that we are on Earth and God is in Heaven. Though he be Our Father, he is Holy. Though he be Holy and in Heaven, we must not assume this means he is distant. Heaven is not somewhere out there. It is the unseen realm just through the veil. It is right here, right now. To say Holy is your name is not to keep our distance but to retain our reverence. We approach with confidence and in a familial way but not casually and presumptuously.

Your Kingdom Come: PURPOSE. Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. This is God’s Great plan. Jesus makes this the first petition. He wants for God’s great plan to become our great purpose and guiding priority in all things. Hence we make it THE PRAYER within all our prayers.

Give us this day our daily bread: PROVISION. This is code language for, “Remember Manna.” Remember how mamma worked? Each morning it was provided. They gathered enough for the days need. On the day prior to Sabbath they gathered enough for two days. Anything gathered beyond what was needed rotted. Bottom line here: there will always be scarcity in our hoarding but abundance in God’s giving.

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us: PEACE. We need to live at peace with others. We begin by taking stock of the debts owed us— our accounts receivables, if you will. Not literal debts but anything done to us, directly or indirectly, intentionally or negligently, offensively do defensively, we need to wipe the slate clean— cancel the foul. Next we take our own sins to God to ask for the same from him for ourselves.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one: PROTECTION. We are far more vulnerable than we realize. The reason we don’t realize it is because we spend so much energy trying to protect ourselves. Jesus does not want our energy and resources going into self protection, rather, he wants us to trust in his protection. Temptation concerns our weakness. Deliverance from evil concerns our exposure.

7P’s: PERSONAL. PRESENCE. POWER. PURPOSE. PROVISION. PEACE. PROTECTION.

So there is the big framework. Remember, Jesus gave us this prayer because he didn’t want us to expend enormous amounts of energy and anxiety on a multitude of words in our prayers. He said God already knows our needs.

So if God already knows, why bring any of it before him? The Lord’s Prayer is more about reminding ourselves of our real needs and who can be trusted to meet those needs. It is a prayerful rehearsal of our core faith. This prayer is about building a powerful foundation of confidence in God so that our praying can get out of our closet and take the shape of decisive action in the world.

THE PRAYER

Almighty, ascended Lord Jesus Christ, you are high and exalted, yet nearer than our breath. Thank you for this prayer of faith. Thank you for making clear to us that the measure of our praying does not consist in making sure we ask for everything, but in a lived faith that you are taking care of everything. Make that a real place for me and not just an ideal. Right here, Jesus. Right now, Jesus, Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

1. What is missing in the Lord’s Prayer? Anything you would expect to be in a prayer like this that you don’t see?

2. How have you engaged the Lord’s Prayer in your experience? How has it helped? Hindered?

3. What if you could cease particularizing the many and varied things we need that fall underneath these major petitions? What would trusting that God knows our needs without our even asking mean for our life of prayer?

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

1 COMMENT

  1. JD, enjoyed meeting you Saturday and wish I could have made it back to hear your thoughts on Sunday but I don’t go to church at Bethany. You may not have caught this but I love the Freudian autocorrect slip you made under Provision today,, “Remember how mamma worked?” Good stuff!

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