Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Thy Will Be Done, or How to Pray.

Today, while I was on the way to my service call to fix a leak in a hothouse (greenhouse) listening to the radio, it occurred to me the reason and practice of prayer. This is something Jesus said most succinctly in Matthew 6:9-13. "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."

Today, popular culture defines prayer as asking the Lord for a favor as if He owed us anything. While He can and does bless us abundantly, this is NOT the focus of prayer. Christians have a responsibility to reach the lost and spread God's word, not to ask for intervention in the lottery or in manipulating someone else to do something in your favor. It's also not to further the "name it and claim it" or "prosperity" gospel. I've said this and will until Kingdom come: the Lord is NOT your genie.

The Lord's Prayer is probably one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible, save for those concerning the rapture. It seems like some neatly packaged script that anyone can memorize and use ceremoniously in a funeral or church service. I've been to a church were "canned" prayer is part of tradition, but worshipping the Lord involves more than tradition. Of course the prayer is Biblical, but the meaning is the most important. We all have relationships with others and we treat each person in a different fashion and respect. Obviously, with the Creator of the universe as well as someone whose Word is all powerful, the respect is or should be the utmost. Because I'm a Christian, (and I pray you are too) there is the relationship factor as well.

We wouldn't approach every friend with the same words and sentences every time we talk to him or her, why do that with our Father in Heaven? It is the meaning, not the "canned" prayer, that we must adhere to. We're supposed to love Him and loving Him means to speak from our being. God keeps the pies in the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, and I'll simplify this as well.

Our Father, which art in heaven = self explanatory.

Hallowed be thy name = His name is above all other names. (See my post about blasphemy)

Thy kingdom come = we look forward to his kingdom on earth and earn a crown of righteousness in the process.

Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven = pray for God's will to be done, since his is perfect and yours (and mine) isn't.

Give us this day our daily bread = acknowledging the Lord provides for our needs.

Forgive us our debts (or trespasses) as we forgive our debtors (those who trespass against us). Obviously, if we expect the Lord to forgive us, we need to forgive everyone else.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. = Avoid any appearance of evil; put on the armor of God.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. = We're His creation, so He makes the rules, has the power and deserves the glory. We bless this with an 'Amen.'

As we can see, the Lord is all about us and when we pray it needs to be all about Him. Praying for others' salvation or giving you the strength and resolve to do His will are examples of His will being done. Praying to win the lottery isn't. His name is above all other names. We need to be willing to forgive if we expect the Lord to forgive us. We need to look forward to His kingdom and submit our will to His. This is a prayer, but it's also a code of conduct when we pray. Blessings in Christ Jesus.

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