A Spiritual Inventory – Week 2January 19, 2023
Our FatherFebruary 2, 2023
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. —Matt. 6:9-13
Today we begin a journey into a better understanding of the prayer Jesus gave to his disciples, and by extension, to us. We call this, The Lord’s Prayer. It is more accurate to say, The Disciple’s Prayer. Jesus gave this to them and to us to use as a model to follow.**
I like to think of “Our Prayer” as a centering prayer – a grounding prayer. It is not a share-my-heart-with-Jesus prayer. If we look carefully, we will notice that the first two verses are directed towards glorifying the Father, and the final three towards our needs.
Therefore this prayer grounds us on two things:
- The Father is God Almighty, El Shaddai! He is everything. His name is to be honored and revered, even adored and celebrated.
- We are not.
We are needy, we are pitiful, and we must rely on the Father’s help in every aspect of our lives. I know you are bristling at that; so am I. But to illustrate, with the men’s groups I asked this question: “With which of these three petitions do you need the most help?”
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
I knew what the answer would not be before I asked. Can you guess which one was totally ignored?
11 Give us today our daily bread.
I’m guessing the same would be true all across America. And it’s not just that most of us are well-fed. It is that we do not think we need any help with our day-to-day sustenance. Be it food, shelter, work, day-to-day details of life, or anything else, we have that covered. We can take care of ourselves in those areas.
It would never occur to us to ask for the Father to give us any of those things. We will admit, although often begrudgingly, that we need help with temptations and forgiving others. But “give me today my daily …?” Give me?
Yet obviously Jesus thinks we need to ask for help in these areas, too. All areas, as a matter of fact. This is why I call this prayer a centering/grounding prayer. If I can center myself on these two facts: that I am nothing and he is everything, and therefore I need his help in every detail, every aspect of my life, my prayers will take on a whole new meaning.
This parallels Jesus’ observation about coming to him as … totally dependent… children:
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. —Matt. 18:2-4
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” —Matt. 19:14
Try staying on the first verse of “Our Prayer” for a few minutes, before proceeding with the rest of your prayer. Let his magnificence sink in. Let it ground you in his goodness, his greatness, and his grace. Then your prayer, any prayer, will be colored with his glory – and not yours.
** The true Lord’s Prayer is found at John 17. (Read it!) It is Jesus’ last night with his disciples. He has finished with the Last Supper, as well as all his teaching and encouraging we find in John 13-16. Then Jesus paused, he looked up towards the heavens, and he prayed, first for himself, then for his disciples, and finally for us. Yes, that’s right, two thousand years ago Jesus prayed for you.