GNB 2.28

February 1, 2023


“This then is how you ought to pray, [begin by saying] ‘Father, our Father, hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come and Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us today our daily portion of bread. Forgive us our debts [sins, trespasses] as we have forgiven those who owe us a great debt [who have sinned or trespassed against us.” And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the Evil One.”(Matthew 6.9-13)


As we engage the prayer which our Lord Jesus the Christ gave to His disciples so that they might live effective lives of faith, we should notice the pattern which He gives them. It stands to reason that Jesus would be like His Father since they shared the same spiritual DNA. But, of course, so do we. Not one of us is a merely human creation. Life in the flesh may be born without an awareness of God. In fact, we are all born without an “awareness of God” cognitively. There is, however, a yearning born in each of us which cries out for the meaning and purpose of our existence. The cry for “Is there truly something which I can know that makes sense of all I have experienced and will continue to experience?” blurts out in all sorts of ways. It may seem a bit chaotic and messy. In the midst of it all, God declares there to be order, structure and a pattern of thinking and being which gives peace, hope and fulfillment to our lives. Prayer can provide that opportunity to grasp such patterned thinking and being. I have heard several patterns for prayer offered by those who are expert at praying. Their formulaic teaching of “how to pray” help those who are struggling with how to pray effectively. One such formula is ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Service). It much resembles the movement of a “lament” which is found most often in the Book of Psalms. I have used it many times to make sure that I have included necessary elements as I speak to God about the understanding of our relationship. It is, after all, not rocket science. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in Prayer to speak to God and be blessed with the understanding of our relationship with Him and His with us. Even in our randomness of prayer, our cries for help, our petitions for alliance and the simple awe and wonder which rises up from the revelations of nature which were formed at His command and by the Hand of His Holy Spirit, we are blessed with such understanding. Still, there is a need, I believe, for a time of focus and concentrated prayer to resolve our randomness, our sporadic attempts to be spiritual people, our acceptance of being “professional” people of God. Such patterned and positioned prayer creates a time when it is just “me and God.” So, what have I discovered in the prayer which was presented by the One who called His Father’s dwelling place on earth a “House of Prayer”? The pattern which the Holy Spirit has given me words of orientation has looked like this, so far: Recognition, Cognition, Petition, Declaration (for those whose Lord’s Prayer is of the King James ilk) and Consecration. It has five major points and one of them with three subpoints.

We have reflected upon Recognition with the call to embrace God by His familial name, Abba-Father. Not only should we seize upon that name for God as in our family-orientation but in a comfortable and continual recognition of “Immanuel,” God with us. We ought to become aware of the “familial” and the “familiar” presence of God in our lives and ours in His. He is not the welcomed guest at our table. He is the provider of the banquet set before us (to borrow from David’s Shepherd Psalm) or the founder of our feast (to borrow from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.) As we offer prayer at our meal table, in whatever venue that may be present, it ought to be our purpose and intention to honor God and recognize His Name as holy in our words and in our expressions. I think that might certainly change, if not at least challenge, a lot of our dinner conversation not in content but in intent.

We have reflected upon Cognition with the call to embrace God’s purpose for our lives. The invocation of “Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” declares our awareness that both the meaning and purpose of life lived to its fullest is found in the will of God. God’s greatest will for our lives is love. God’s love is a powerful truth and reality which forms and transforms our heart, mind and spirit into the manifestation of such truth where “the Word became flesh and becomes our flesh.” While we may have a variety of pursuits to choose from to express our understanding of “meaning and purpose” in the world, there is truly only one “meaning and purpose” for our existence on earth and that is God’s love. When those two align with each other, vertically (between us and God) and horizontally (between us and all others), we find such peace and joy and power. In fact, for me, I can more easily pray the KJV Lord’s Prayer by placing “for Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory forever” following the Cognition element of Jesus’ prayer. At that point, we would pray “…Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven for Yours is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory forever.” Just a thought….

For several days, we have reflected on the Petition aspect of prayer. It is where we are really honest about our relationship with God and one another. We all have at least one question which leads us to the “want and need” to speak with God; inquiring minds want to know. These three questions (daily bread, forgiveness and protection) speak not only to our physical needs but our spiritual needs as well. We don’t just ask God for anything. Generic requests receive generic answers. Mind you, God does not speak generically to us. God deals in specifics with specificity. However, if our ears are not attuned specifically then what we tend to hear is a lot of static and gibberish like nearly finding that radio station but not quite or speaking through rooms instead of having a face-to-face dialogue.

We are asking for more than food in the pantry when we ask God to “give us our daily bread.” Jesus answered the disciples query about His hunger with “I have food to eat you still know nothing about.” (John 4.32) We scratch the surface of understanding this when we are focused on doing something we are truly committed to and/or love doing. Time flies. We forget to eat or drink and yet we are not bound to an awareness of hunger and thirst until the focus is lost. That daily bread starts with putting the “Word of God” before us and in us much as I do in presenting these reflections.

We are aware of the burdens of indebtedness manifested in a variety of ways fiscally, spiritually, relationally, emotionally, etc. We understand and comprehend the value of being forgiven of a debt. We tend to understand it with the paying off of the debt or making it “square” with another person that “now we are even.” Still, we tend to put ourselves into debt far more than we seek to be liberated from it. Most generally, we are in debt because we are pursuing a vision of our lives which cannot be fulfilled or fulfilling. But, when Jesus taught the disciples to pray asking “God forgive us our debts,” He does so with the balancing caveat of our attitude of extending forgiveness as clearing the slate to be forgiven. The value of the sadly uninvoked “Jubilee” which was pronounced in Judaism bears witness to the desire of God to show us how to live free from debt. The very scriptures Jesus quoted, by happenstance or on purpose, when He visited the family synagogue in Nazareth, were the words declaring Jubilee. Jesus even announced that those very words were being fulfilled in the ears of those who were listening to Him that day. Unfortunately, few if anyone was listening because they led Him to a cliff with the intention of throwing Him to His death for non-compliance. Hard to be forgiving if you forgive not.

And that leads us to the third question. It petitions God’s sovereign protection over the lives of those who call themselves “the people of God.” The verbiage is unique in that Jesus taught them to ask God to “not lead them into temptation.” We certainly understand and are relieved to pray “…and protect us from the Evil One whose intent is nothing but evil.” We must recognize the intent of Satan is to defeat God’s will by swaying God’s people into believing they have no need for God. The embellishment of “we can be like God by being a god in our own kingdom” is a persistent temptation. God never asks us to be God. God does ask us to be like Jesus who is the Son of God. Paul speaks of Jesus in this way, “He who existed in the form of God did not count equality with God as a thing to be grasped. Instead, He took on the form of a servant to embrace the life of obedience.” (Philippians 2.6ff) So, what is it that we are asking God to do or not to do? I give you this consideration to ponder today: God cannot be tempted to be anything less than God. We may not be taught by Jesus to plead with God to not put us in harm’s way or in a situation where we would be sorely tempted to be less of who we are with the hope of being more than we should be. Perhaps, Jesus is reminding us to ask God to be God and nothing less than the Almighty God of Heaven and Earth. We are asking for God to be a loving Father who is bound to our provision and protection from all manner of harm and evil. It is asking for God to affirm that when we look to the hills from whence our help comes it is from Him and Him alone. When we pray, let’s ask God to not lead us in a tempting manner or into a situation where failure to honor God becomes the only choice of survival. God did not surrender Heaven to Lucifer’s song of rebellion. God brought the cacophony of Lucifer’s worship of self to an end with a real “down beat.” Lucifer found his new identity and purpose in serving God on earth as he could never do in Heaven. We are God’s reminders to Satan that he is defeated and more like a sounding gong and a clanging symbol than an enticement to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength…and our neighbor and our enemy and ourselves and especially one another. God lead us in that direction and let’s cause the enemy to flee together!


Father, our Father, hallowed be Your Name; Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done…ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.” We thank You for the provision of Your Word, the true bread of life which came down from Heaven. We are indebted to You for Your choice to forgive us our spiritual debts which have piled up against us, You and others. We know that You have not forgiven us so that we can continue to live in spiritual poverty. Rather, in our decision to follow Christ Jesus we can be made rich to overflowing with faith, hope and love. Fill us up, Lord and restore us to wholeness in Jesus’ name as we forgive others in the manner by which we ourselves have been forgiven by You. Protect us today and all days from the manifestation of evil. We are sorely tempted to act inappropriately and irresponsibly toward those who are the enemy of the Word. Yet, we affirm the command to love even our enemies. We allow You to execute the true justice in and over our lives. We hold ourselves accountable to trust You in all things today and always. Amen.

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