How the Lord’s Prayer Became an Adventure in Missing the Point

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July 17, 2018

Matthew 6: 9-13

““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

What if our approach to and experience of “The Lord’s Prayer” has largely been an adventure in missing the point? I’m beginning to think so (at least for me). Please don’t confuse my boldness in what follows for arrogance. I’m just going to say it and receive what corrections and rebukes may come in return.

We get the Lord’s Prayer wrong. For starters, shouldn’t it be called, “The Disciples Prayer.” It is the Lord, after all, to whom we are praying.

Second, Jesus seems to teach the prayer for use in one’s prayer closet rather than as a corporate recitation. Could it be our entire misguided experience with the prayer as a public recitation has served to steer us away from engaging the prayer behind closed doors as intended?

Third, I have heard many teachings instructing that Jesus didn’t intend us to simply repeat the words of the Lord’s (I mean the Disciples’) prayer. They say instead Jesus intended the several petitions to serve as a “pattern” or “guide” for our praying; that Jesus intended us to expand our praying within each area. If that’s the case, why did Jesus give us the prayer after instructing us to keep the word count down—with the stated reason being, “your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” v.8

If we take the text in its clear and plain sense, we would go into our room, close the door and pray the 53 words the make up the prayer. Why has it never occurred to me to do exactly what Jesus said to do in his abundantly clear instructions? It strikes me as a stunningly simplified, revolutionary approach.

Do you think Jesus could literally mean what he actually said?

I’ve got a theory on this I will share tomorrow. For now, how about we do an experiment together? For the rest of this series on prayer, including today, let’s try doing exactly as Jesus instructed us.

  1. Go into a room.
  2. Close the door.
  3. Say the 53 words aloud to God.*
  4. Leave. Seriously, leave.

*Might not hurt to take a knee, but if it does hurt, skip that part. ;0)

THE PRAYER

Almighty Ascended Lord Jesus Christ, you are high and exalted yet nearer than my breath. Thank you for the Disciples Prayer. Forgive me for missing the point. Come Holy Spirit and teach my spirit the simple obedience of following Jesus’ plain instructions. Right here, Jesus. Right now, Jesus. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. So what do you think—how is it that we have managed to take a prayer given for personal time with God and turn it into what can so often be a meaningless corporate motion?
  2. Why do you think we have needed to interpret Jesus’ seemingly clear teaching about how to engage the Disciple’s Prayer with our own ideas?
  3. What do you think is the major point of the Disciple’s Prayer? Will you join the experiment with us? How about starting right now?

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

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Just this week I have returned to John Wesley’s “A collection of prayers for everyday of the week”. Each one covers more than one typed page. They are profound and full of theology. He ends each one of them with “Our Father…”

  2. I’m reading C. K. Barrett’s commentary on Romans, and think the except below may add some light to the topic of pray:

    “Man, designed as God’s creature to glorify his Creator, chooses rather to glorify himself. Obediently or disobediently, he lives’ under the law’. He may deliberately throw off the yoke, or suppose that by doing what he conceives to be ‘right’ he can secure his own position by establishing ‘rights’ over against God; in either case he is exercising a will-to-power. The cure of this ill is faith, which may be described in terms of the old maxim, ‘Know thyself’. Man’s primary responsibility is to recognize his own place in the universe, and to respond to his Creator in grateful and obedient creatureliness. He no longer uses his religion as a means to establish his rights over against God, but perceives through it that he stands under God’s judgement and instead of thinking to control God’s judgement through his own activity, accepts it and submits to it, and is thereby at peace with God.”

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