Week 4 – Worshiper, Being a Person of Prayer – Saturday

“Lord, teach us to pray”

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples
said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” He said to
them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial” (Luke 11:1-4).

If you are a person who prays Morning and Evening Prayer every day, using The
Book of Common Prayer, and you attend a Communion service on Sundays, then you
will say this prayer at least 13 times every week. Christian monastic communities
are quite literally soaked in this prayer, as they say it so many times every day, every
week, every month, every year.
•And yet, part of the problem is that we say the Lord’s Prayer so frequently that we
may cease to attend to it.
•There are many ways in which a person might study this prayer, and there are
whole books on it.
•For our purposes, we are simply going to point out some ways that you might
consider the prayer as an aspect of Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom, and his
preparation of disciples who could recognize and join in with the movements of
God’s Kingdom as they show up from time to time in our world.

Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
From the beginning, the prayer grounds a disciple in the holiness of God and in
God’s will, perfectly realized in the Kingdom of God.
•Because God is like a father to us, we derive our life from God, and live in
intimate relationship with God. Sometimes we give God names from the physical
world that we live in: shepherd, rock, stronghold, guide, friend. These names
remind us of how close God is to the creation, and how attentiveness to the world
that God has made can draw us into relationship with its Author.
•But that intimacy needs to balanced with the fact that God is, in Godself,
unknowable by humans, completely transcendent, invisible, uncontrollable, not
subject to our manipulation: hallowed (holy) be your name.
•The Kingdom of God might be described as a kind of blueprint for how God
intends the world to function, and how God intends people to relate to one
another, to the rest of creation, and to the Creator. God’s reign is manifest wherever
love is the foundation of personal relationships, and wherever justice is the
foundation of institutional relationships. At the beginning of this study, we spoke
of God’s mission in this way: “Our tradition tells us that God is Trinity, three
persons that are yet one whole. In other words, at the heart of God is a completely
reconciled community of love. One way to think of the mission of God is that God
is always acting to draw the entire creation into the very relationship that God
knows as Trinity: the harmonious dance of complete love, complete self-giving,
complete reception of the other.”
•Establishment of the Kingdom of God is God’s mission. By teaching us this prayer,
Jesus sought to draw his disciples, prayer by prayer, into a life lived by the values
of the Kingdom.

Give us each day our daily bread.
In a most gracious way, Jesus shows his compassion for our needs. Our most basic
need is for daily bread, and this point is emphasized with the repetition of “each
day” and “daily.”
•In Jesus’ time, as now, the prayer speaks differently to people who are hungry and
to those who have plenty. It consoles those who hunger with God’s recognition of
their need. In the Kingdom, no one would go hungry.
•But to those who have plenty, it draws a disciple’s attention to those who do not
have enough to sustain life from one day to the next, those who ache when they
see their children starving and they have no means to buy food for them. It is as
though the prayer were asking: What will you do with the energy provided by a
good meal?
•Both the full and the hungry join their voices as one in this petition, knitting a
connection between them.
•Another way you might ponder this petition would be to ask yourself what you
are hungering for besides food. For companionship? For justice? For mercy? Let
your deep hunger be joined to the hunger of others.

And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
Many people struggle with this petition, not because they don’t want their sins
forgiven, but because God’s forgiveness sounds conditional. “Doesn’t God love us
unconditionally?” some ask.
•God’s love is not at issue here. It isn’t mentioned.
•What is mentioned is the divine economy of which we are an integral part.
•Forgiveness, lifting the burden of indebtedness off your neighbor’s shoulders, is
connected with being in right relationship with God.
•Perhaps it is an aspect of God’s love of us not to allow us to put God in one
compartment and our neighbor in another, thus interrupting the flow of the
Kingdom into our world.
•Forgiveness is the way in which God is re-knitting our world into the wholeness
that God imagined from the beginning – not a shallow forgiveness, but the real
deal, worked out over time with truth-telling, accountability, and love deeper than
sentiment.

And do not bring us to the time of trial.
As we saw in yesterday’s passage from Luke 22, the “time of trial” for Jesus’
immediate followers was the aftermath of his execution, their courageous and
rebellious proclamation of his resurrection, and their continuance of his provocative
ministry in spite of opposition.
•Early followers of Jesus experienced serious rejection and persecution for both
political and religious reasons (and often both together).
•People who are serious about doing the will of God on earth will probably
encounter times of trial, as the self-serving forces of the world oppose them.
•Asking God to deliver us from the time of trial doesn’t mean that we think that
God is going to put us deliberately in harm’s way, but is, rather, a petition for the
strengthening power of the Spirit to guide and guard us when times of trial come.

Questions for Reflection
•One way to relate to a very familiar prayer such as the Lord’s Prayer is simply to
ask yourself which part of it is most alive for you at the moment. Is there a certain
part that you are wrestling with now (hunger? forgiveness? fear?)?
•Compared to other prayers of Jesus’ time, this is a very simple prayer, but one that
grounds the disciple in God’s vision of the Kingdom. What aspect of the Kingdom
calls to you in particular to share in the work of God? What particular
strengthening might you need, in order to be an instrument of God’s will on earth?
Prayer
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial. Amen.

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