Those of you who are familiar with computers are aware of pull-down menus. When you touch one item, a whole series of possibilities opens up before you. Such is the way it is with 57 Greek words which, translated into English, constitute a prayer we commonly refer to as The Lord's Prayer. Each phrase in this dynamic prayer opens powerful vistas of spiritual insight and potential.
But before we ponder these words--the background: One year had passed from the time Jesus was baptized by John at Jordan. Luke 11 tells us that in the months the disciples had walked with Jesus they had often heard him pray, and they were deeply impressed by the fact that his prayers were so different from those of the Pharisees. When Jesus prayed, His prayers were warm, intimate, personal; but when the Pharisees prayed, their prayers were cold, stentorian, and impersonal. It was this that prompted them to come to Him with the request: "Lord, teach us to pray..."
Today, we need to re-voice the request of the disciples long ago. By and large, prayer for many has become the sending of a night letter to God, or in more contemporary terms, a quick text of our wants and wishes to our Heavenly Father. Prayer is one of the most neglected elements of our relationship with God, without which we remain impoverished and isolated from the warmth of His presence. The prayers of Jesus form the backdrop of a relationship with God, which we desperately need today. In public, Jesus' prayers were short; in private, quite long. Our prayers tend to be just the opposite. Rather lengthy when we wish to impress people, but very short or none at all in the privacy of our homes or bedrooms.
In response to their request, Jesus said, "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. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever!'"
Now let's begin with that first phrase, "Our Father." First, notice the possessive pronoun our. At least 75 times Jesus used the term My, often saying, "my Father." But in praying "our," Jesus reminds His disciples that God is the Father of all who have come to peace with His Son through the blood of the cross. When we pray "our," we step into fellowship with the disciples who walked with Jesus. We are in the company of the Christians in the early church who met in catacombs. We worship in the spirit and fellowship of brothers and sisters meeting all over the world behind closed doors. We are in the company of the redeemed of all ages who have prayed that same prayer just as we do.
Notice too, there is a selflessness in this term, our. Not I, me, my... but our Father. Much of our prayers focus on the fulfillment of our selfish nature, instead of searching out the broader path of need for our brothers and sisters around the world. "God bless us four and no more!" One of the great undiscovered truths is that the Church of Jesus Christ is a living organism that crosses cultures, oceans, prejudices, languages and barriers.
I think it can fairly be said that no nation in the world is devoid of some who name the name of Jesus Christ and pray to the Almighty as Sovereign Lord and God. Heaven will, undoubtedly, hold its share of surprises for some of us who felt that surely those who disagreed with us would be on the outside looking in. When you pray, "Our Father," you leave to Him the decision as to who really belongs to Him, and take your place in humility among all those who stand at the foot of the cross.
Resource Reading: Matthew 6:1-13
Text: This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven…” Matthew 6:9
GUIDELINES with Harold Sala – May 14, 2018