Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Discipleship Series by Justin McRoberts: Prayer (Part 2)

Since today is our mission wide day of prayer, it's quite appropriate that today's post addresses the topic. 

Last week we introduced a new discipleship series by Justin McRoberts. If you missed it, click on the links below:
Prayer, part 2 
by Justin McRoberts

When Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them how to pray, Jesus taught them what we now call “The Lord’s Prayer” or “The Our Father.” It’s a beautiful prayer and, since we are looking at how to pray, lets take look at this gift Jesus gave us.

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.

Here are a few thoughts about the Lord’s Prayer that I hope help make it a gift and helpful tool in your prayer life. When you stop to pray, try keeping the Lord’s Prayer in front of you and, even if you don’t pray it word for word, use it as a kind of outline.

“Our Father”

I love that the prayer starts out “Our Father” instead of just “Father.” Why? Because when I pray “Our Father” I remember that I am not alone; that I am part of a whole family of sisters and brothers who are on this same journey with me. Whatever burden or joy I bring to a time of prayer, I can safely bet another sister or brother is sharing the same burden or joy. In fact, the remainder of the prayer is in prayed that way - “Give us” instead of “Give me.” “Forgive us” instead of “forgive me.” “Lead us” instead of “lead me.” You and I are not alone on this journey. When you stop to pray, be reminded that you are one of God’s many children and that, as part of His Family, you are not alone in your joys or struggles.

“Hallowed be Thy Name”

Praying “Hallowed be Thy Name” reminds me that God is Holy, which is to say that I’m not just talking with my roommate or a good buddy. Yes, He loves me as His son and listens to me as my best friend.. and... He’s also the one who created everything in existence. He’s perfect. He’s all-powerful. And He is making Himself available to me right here in my tiny corner of His big world. That’s humbling and thrilling at the same time.

When you stop to pray, be reminded that God is not like anyone else you talk to. He is Holy. And in all his perfect power and wisdom, He joyfully receives you into His Presence. He loves to hear from you.

“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Did you notice that almost half way through this prayer and we haven’t mentioned any of our own needs yet? In fact, before we do that, we are asked to consider that what God wants for us and for our world is bound to be better than what we want. Jesus asks us to pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” So, before I get on with sharing with God my thoughts about what should happen next in my heart or in my family or my neighborhood, I am reminded that God has designs to make everything “on earth as it is in Heaven.” God’s desire is to make everything in the world right, and my life is part of those designs.

When you stop to pray, be reminded that God’s plans for His world are beautiful and just and perfect. He wants to know what you want and need. But he also wants you to know that He has your best interests in mind along with the best interests of the entire world.

“Give us today our daily bread.”

This part is hard for me, to be honest. All I’m asking for is daily bread? Like... just enough for today? What about tomorrow!?!? Come to find out, thinking or worrying about tomorrow and what I might need when I get there can be a real distraction. Jesus taught the people who first followed him “... do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34). What I’ve found is that asking for my “daily” bread can help me to focus on and be present to the day I am living in. I am invited to pay attention to the people I see that day and the situations I find myself in rather than look past them.

When you stop to pray, be reminded that God took care of your needs up to this point and that He will do the same tomorrow. Let that knowledge set you free to take care of the day, the people and the situations right in front of you today.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

There is just no getting around the fact that you make mistakes. And sometimes, when we make mistakes, we hurt people around us. Jesus invites us to ask for and inevitably receive forgiveness for our mistakes as well as the hurts we’ve caused others. And as He does so, He challenges us to see that those around us who may have caused us injury are in the exact same place we are; they need forgiveness for their wrongs.

When you stop to pray, be reminded that Jesus died for your sins - that nothing you can do can separate you from the love of God. Also be reminded that Jesus died for the sins of those who have wronged you or hurt you.

“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Sometimes, I get nervous that there is one good way to go and a lot of bad ways, or that there is one right road to take and the rest of them are wrong. Thinking that way can cause me a lot anxiety, especially when it comes to decisions like which school to choose or which classes to take when I get there or which job to apply for... or if these shoes go with these pants!!!

What this part of the prayer does for me is encourage me that there may be many roads to take ahead of me and that God will lead along the way. The prayer isn’t “Help me pick the one right way to go.” It’s “Lead me not into temptation... deliver me from evil.” If God is leading, He will take you places with good options. That doesn’t mean bad options won’t present themselves. They will. But even then, God promises to help us and deliver us.

When you stop to pray, be encouraged that God is good and that He’s a good friend. In His goodness, He’ll give you good options. He will also help you, if you ask Him to and let Him, avoid getting into situations that will steal life from you.

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