Happy Monday everyone,
I hope you are enjoying this incredible summer. As I get back into my regular rhythms of creating content, I've decided that for the next several Mondays, I'll draw our Monday Minute thought from "The Lord's Prayer." This endeavour will take a few months, and will be a powerful thing to start our weeks with, breathing a portion of prayer from the very direction of Jesus.
Matthew's and Luke's Gospels tell us that one day the disciples asked Jesus to "teach them how to pray." After telling them what not to do, Jesus proceeded to give us this prayer, which we now call "The Lord's Prayer." Consider reading/praying it out loud over yourself today.
"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.'" Matthew 6:9-13
This week's prayer focus/thought: "Our Father."
When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He begins with something so foreign to us in the 21st century west, that most of us skip over it in consideration of the rest of the prayer. He addresses the Father (which we will talk about next week) from the position of "our." This is an "us" or "we" prayer. This prayer is communal.
Most of us, when we pray, are fairly self-centred and self-focused at the outset, even if we fully intend to pray for others. When we pray, we generally approach God individually, but here, Jesus tells us that when we approach God in prayer, we are to do so in the context of the community.
Christianity is a communal faith.
God is a communal God.
Heaven is the least self-centred place imaginable, and God, who is a community in and of Himself, has designed his people to operate in the context of community, and in so doing, positions us to be God and others focused.
The prayer of Jesus makes us leave individualism, self-focus, vanity, pride, selfishness and conceit at the door. The entirety of it is a communal prayer, as it asks God to "give us this day our daily bread," and to "lead us not into temptation."
This prayer (perhaps all prayer) is meant to be all about us.
As you begin this week, let this prayer ground you in two communal facts.
1. You are not alone in this.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are a part of a big family, and even if you are isolated physically or socially speaking, you are spiritually part of a great and growing crowd of witnesses all over the earth and in Heaven. Do not let the Devil get you thinking you're all alone; he does some of his best (or worst) work through isolation. We're in this together, and as you pray, you are praying with us!
2. Jesus is calling you and me to be others-focused as we go about our lives.
It is interesting that at the end of the Lord's prayer, Jesus says, "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matthew 6:14-15) In other words, don't ask for God to do something for you that you aren't willing to do for someone else. The expression of God's grace to us as an individual is contingent upon how we express grace on behalf of others. We cannot pray the Lord's prayer for ourselves and not be able to pray it for someone else. Or, to take it one step further, when we pray the "Our Father," from a true place of "we," it may be that God may want you to be His answer for the prayer of someone else.
This is how focused God is on the reality of community; the entire expression of loving God is connected to how we love others. This prayer is only something we can dare ask for ourselves in the context of asking for the benefit of others.
So, as you begin this week, pray the Lord's prayer, and focus in on the "we" nature of it. Throw the prayer wide, into your marriage, your family, your legacy, your street & neighbours, your church, your city, this country and beyond, and let's see what great "God happenings" we see unfold in the near future.
I wonder what and where it could be?
Tip #1: Be watching for it in others.
Tip #2: Be looking to be God's solutions provided for other people.
Grace and Peace