“Prayer is an expression of who we are... We are living incompleteness.
We are a gap, an emptiness that calls for fulfillment.” - Thomas Merton
This weekend at Gateway we explored Jesus' instruction on prayer. In one sense, prayer is something that everyone does and it is also something that everyone struggles with. Every faith has some form of prayer. Remote tribes pray for rain & children & victory in battle. The Incas & Aztecs went so far as to sacrifice humans in order to attract their god’s attention. Five times a day Muslims stop whatever they are doing to pray. Even people who think of themselves as atheists or agnostics, when they are surveyed, most of them will actually say, "There are times when I come to the end of my rope and I pray."
Philip Yancey says, “We pray because we want to thank someone or something for the beauties and the glories of life, and also because we feel small and helpless and sometimes afraid. We pray for forgiveness, for strength, for contact with the One who is, for assurance we are not alone”
We pray because our deepest desire is to know God and yet one of our biggest struggles in Christian spirituality is prayer. So in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus comes along and teaches us how to 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.
This simple yet incredibly profound prayer has shaped Christianity for over two thousand years. It was taught by Jesus, in part, to show us what the point of Christian spirituality really is and how to get to the point in our prayers.
Over the next few days I am going to offer a few mediations on each line of this beautiful prayer, but you could really sum it up this way:
Prayer is seeking to weave the Kingdom of God into a fallen world.
All of us are trying to recover from the effects of the fall. We are all struggling with idolatry, sinfulness, futility, and brokenness. So many things seem unraveled from the way they were supposed to be. What Jesus wants us to do is to join him the the weaving of the Kingdom of God back into a fallen world.
Karl Barth said, “To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”
This is what the Lord's Prayer is all about. It is a holistic prayer. It embraces the whole world - from the coming of the Kingdom of God to our daily bread. Large things and small things. Spiritual things and material things. Inward things and outward things. Nothing is beyond the scope of this prayer.
Prayer is a struggle because creation is at war with God but the Lord's Prayer helps align our lives around his Kingdom. Jesus invites his followers to converse and collaborate with Him to accomplish good things on earth and advance his Kingdom purposes through prayer.