This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news:
VATICAN TRIES TO ESCAPE U.N. SCRUTINY ON CHILD ABUSE
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)
The Lord’s Prayer
11 He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’ 2 He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:
Father,[a] hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.[b]
3 Give us each day our daily bread.[c]
4 And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.’[d]
Perseverance in Prayer
5 And he said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.” 7 And he answers from within, “Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.” 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
9 ‘So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for[e] a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12 Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit[f] to those who ask .
There’s a command of Jesus here which many Christians ignore. Disciples of Jesus are told to use this prayer when they pray. They may have other prayers but they should always have this one. In comparison with many famous prayers Jesus’ prayer is quite dry and ordinary. I can only testify that using it reveals that it’ s perfectly adjusted to the needs of disciples.
Luke gives a shorter version of the prayer than Matthew’s which is the one adopted for worship by most churches. As the bits Luke misses out seem tome to be expansions or explanations of the bits he gives us, I think Luke’s is the more original.
The prayer addresses God as Abba, as Jesus did. That makes it the prayer of God’s sons and daughters. We accept this dignity, for ourselves and others, when we use this prayer. “Father” is God’s new name, which must be honoured in word and action. When we disrespect anyone we fail to honour God’s name. God’s kingdom is not a place, it’s God’s rule in this place. (Matthew explains it by adding, “your will be done on earth”). Again we can’t pray these words faithfully without trying to follow God’s way. But what is God’s way? It’s three things: receiving our daily livelihood as a gift given and shared communally (OUR daily bread); seeking forgiveness from God for our wrongdoing, because we have learned how to forgive others when they do us wrong; and looking to God to guide us away from suffering. We’re not super-Christians, we’d prefer not to suffer. These three things are the way of the Spirit of Jesus.
Jesus story about the friend who’s gone to bed uses one of Jesus’ favourite story forms: if human beings can do x how much more will God do it. If a friend will help because we make a pest of ourselves, how much more will God be ready to answer our prayers. If human parents give good gifts to their children, how much more will God want to give the best gift of all, his Spirit. But we pray knowing that God our Father is not of this world and does not arrange events in this world. God only works by inspiring his creatures, that’s why we know we may have to face times of trial. Those who tell us that God performs miracles especially for them are liars who bring God into disrepute. How could God help them to find a parking place, when he allows millions to die of malnutrition; or save their child, when he allows others to die of cancer? God inspires his children to solve their own problems, just as any caring parent must do.
There’s humour in having a God who doesn’t do what we want, as witness this boy’s faith:
” I know you can’t ask God for a bicycle, so I stole one and asked God for forgiveness.”