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Category Archives: Lord’s Prayer

Posts that examine prayer as taught by Jesus Christ through the Gospels.

No Thorns at All

shekinah“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
‘Give us this day our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] [Matthew 6:9-13]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.’” [Luke 11:2b-4]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We are exploring the unfurling of a wondrous Rose, in our gardens of spirit, considering the Lord’s gift to our lives of the Lord’s Prayer. We have acknowledged that there are two iterations of the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave an “amplified version” to the Multitudes in Sermon on the Mount, and a much leaner version in the Gospel of Luke to the Disciples. We have noted that “thee, thou, thy” is a more familiar form in older English, than “you, your” as we use the words today.

As we look at the Lord’s Prayer, one phrase per post, today we will consider:

[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] [Multitude’s Version]

This phrase is unique, in that it appears only in the Multitude’s Version. Not going to make much comment on this but to ask, doesn’t this make sense to you? When you walk, day after day… 1000 days plus, alongside Jesus Himself… do you need to be taught this phrase as part of your instruction in prayer? ‘Nuff said.

Second, there are “brackets” around this phrase because it serves as a “doxology”, a statement of dogma, an affirmation common to congregate prayer. Some manuscripts include these verses, and some do not. The discussions and debate among experts on the “historicity” of these words, for me, is not a strong enough reason to omit them here. I have no doubt whatever, that Jesus intends this truth to be affirmed to those who pray. So… working under the assumption that this is the right place for these words… that Jesus truly intends the Multitudes to conclude their prayer experience with this Truth, this awareness.

Now, as we watch The Father “pull this Kingdom over”, (* for once, WITHOUT any of us in the back being in trouble *) and our vehicle pulls over into the car park, we all disembark to stretch our legs and seat ourselves at a lovely little Tea Garden. The air is calm and quiet, the service prompt and courteous, the company congenial, and the surroundings are a delight.

Each of us, silently, draw forth our Roses and just gaze at their splendor. As servers bring coffeepots, teapots, cups, saucers and spoons, they also bring along bud vases, placing one before each of us. We place our Roses there, as yet we feel no pressure to speak. We just enjoy the moment, enjoy one another’s company, sip, sniff, savor, gaze, and Adore.

A breeze seems to spring up from nowhere and everywhere at once… not disturbing, not disruptive, but fresh and powerful, lifting all the Roses up at the same moment, assembling all of them in our midst as a giant Bouquet. The Bouquet turns gently, slowly, levitated above our heads in the center of our group, and all we can do is stare in rapt awe at the Beauty of it.

We know Who is holding our flowers, our Roses… and the Bouquet begins to glow with their own inner beauty, brighter and brighter until we are amazed that we can even bear to look upon these blooms. We hear, as from within the Bouquet, and yet in our own minds and hearts…

“Thine is the Kingdom…

“Thine is the Power…

“Thine is the Glory…

“Always…

“Amen”

The Bouquet, glowing with the radiance of the sun, seems to replicate and separate, dimming once again to manageable levels, and each of us watch as a bouquet drifts down before us. All the roses of each person’s bouquet, then merge back into the singular Rose each of us held, as that Rose rests again, back in its bud vase, even more beautiful than it began.

We each realize, the Kingdom is His, not ours, and that is good. The Power is His, not ours, and that is very good. And glory… glory isn’t an attainment, or heroism, or even recognition… “Glory” is Light. Pure Light. We each realize that all that Glory is His, and He has invested it in this Rose, in Our Rose… “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.”

There is nothing more to say, as we each look about and smile. Almost in unison, we simply and quietly say, “Amen”… and continue to sip our cuppas.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This concludes our mini-journey tour of “The Lord’s Prayer”. Thank you for traveling with us. Please continue to enjoy your Roses.

 
 

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“Give Us This Day…”

Soda-Bread-1024x839 “When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.’” [Luke 11]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
‘Give us this day our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] [Matthew 6:9-13]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We are exploring the unfurling of a wondrous Rose, in our gardens of spirit, considering the Lord’s gift to our lives of the Lord’s Prayer. We have acknowledged that there are two iterations of the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave an “amplified version” to the Multitudes in Sermon on the Mount, and a much leaner version in the Gospel of Luke to the Disciples. We have noted that “thee, thou, thy” is a more familiar form in older English, than “you, your” as we use the words today.

As we look at the Lord’s Prayer, one line per post, today we will consider:

‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ Multitude’s Version

‘Give us each day our daily bread.’ Disciples’ Version

I’m not going to elaborate on these differences but to say that these differences are real, they are there in the original texts. The phrasing of the first version seems to imply a “ration” or a “fixed quantity” of bread, one day at a time; while the second version uses a more “general span” term for each day, and a “variable quantity” of bread… sort of like, “whatever I will need day-by-day, whether that is more, or less.”

Again, the word “give” in both versions is one of those “magic Greek thingy” words, that cover vastly more than a “command” or a “suggestion”, both in time frame and in scope.

I shall leave you now, with this twirl of your own Rose, as I state that one of the coolest challenges Jesus ever offered to me was when He asked… “What if, Little Monk, you went through this whole prayer, instead of seeing all these lines as ‘petitions’ or ‘requests’… What if you saw them as ‘statements of what IS’? What if they were simply ‘affirmations’?”

It changed a lot of MY prayer life, I’ll tell ya…

Enjoy, Gentle Reader, and feel more than free to comment and discuss! Grace to thee — Little Monk

 
 

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Here and There… Now!

arcPray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
‘Give us this day [e]our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] [Matthew 6:9-13]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This evening, (or afternoon, or morning, depending on what quarter of the globe you inhabit) we will continue exploration of Roses. Jesus left us the tremendous gift of “schooling” on “how to pray”. He shared what we call The Lord’s Prayer both with the Multitudes at Sermon on the Mount, and a leaner form of this prayer with the Disciples privately, when they asked Him to teach them to pray.

Unlike a number of Christian blog posts, however, this is not meant directly to “teach”, or engage in exposition of Scripture, as much as this is a reflective study, line by line. The post is meant to “set a stage”, place some background, set some lighting and positions… for YOU as “Director” to shout “action” and watch the scene unfold.

The line we consider here is unique in the Lord’s Prayer, because it is present in the Sermon on the Mount teaching, but totally missing from the instruction of the Disciples.

Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. [Matthew 6:10b]

It was mentioned in an earlier post, that it seems like the main difference between the longer and shorter forms of instruction, was not in “main ideas”, or major issues of content, but rather in “commentary” or “amplification” and description surrounding those main ideas. The Multitudes needed “specifics”… “What Father?”  “OUR Father, THE ONE IN HEAVEN”, and so on. Jesus, walking alongside His disciples 24/7 obviated the need for a lot of explanatory insulation of clear statements, His very presence defining His context clearly.

This line under consideration is unique in that it is totally omitted from the Disciples’ Version. That would lead one to conclude that this line is “amplification”, or “commentary”, rather than being a “key idea”. I’m really not comfortable to conclude that. This line reflects a DEEPLY key idea, but one that would indeed be so innate in the nature of relationship with Jesus on a day to day basis… that this could, indeed, be something He chose not to say to those He worked with daily.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So, as I gently grasp this lovely Rose, this Incredible Gift of Jesus, Son of God Himself, instructing us… both Multitudes of those interested in hearing what He has to say, and committed Disciples… on how to pray… how to lift our hearts and minds and love to God the Father… some ideas arise. Thoughts unfold like petals uncoiling. And I encourage you to allow your own Rose to unfold in your sight, and see what the Holy Spirit shows you.

I should love to hear what petals, what patterns, what colours you find in your own Garden time.

One main idea wove throughout these words… and that word was “Sovereignty”.

If you’re like me, you hear this verse in your head as… “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” I’ve not mentioned this before, but “THY” (the old fashioned pronoun) is actually DIFFERENT, subtly different, from “YOUR”. If you ever took Spanish, or French, or Italian, you may remember that whole “familiar” versus “formal” thing. There were words you used when you spoke to a close friend or family member (like those you’d address by their first name, or as Auntie or Uncle), and there were other words you would use in a more formal relationship (where you might use “sir, ma’am, Mr., Mrs., or Ms.). Well, English once recognized the same distinction, and in this ironic reversal of meanings… “thee, thou, thy” were reserved for the intimate and informal… and “you, your”, and such were for the formal and stilted. Prayer, was intense, personal, intimate… a matter between “He and thee”. Somehow, our language evolved around the reality, and the close family relationships retained in the “words” of prayer, got lost in the march of time in language. Nowadays, we often hear or use “thee, thou, thy” as indicating great pomp, circumstance, and formality… when in fact they used to mean the exact opposite.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It has been difficult to write this post. This has extended across a couple days. My “difficulty” has been how to express this huge “taproot truth”, this great thematic fundamental statement, with its harmonics as it thrums across my spirit… without trying to sound “directive” for others. For one thing, this phase, “Your will be done,” uses that same interesting Greek form that encompasses many things at once.

Your will IS done, has been done, is being done, will continue to be done… etc. Along with, “Let it be done… It is done and covers me…” you can hold and turn this aspect of this Rose in dozens of ways, and watch the Light glint from it like sunlight through a prism crystal. I cannot offer advice or teaching on “what this means”, because my own mind cannot contain all the different meanings, all the depth of meaning, these words express.

“On earth as it is in heaven”… Wow. Just stop a moment, and LISTEN to that. No difference, no gulf, no veil, no separation… Just as Jesus said He comes to bring “eternal life”, the “life of eternity” into the here and now… here it is!

I can’t explain this, Gentle Reader. I won’t try. But Jesus demonstrated to the Disciples every day, the nature of His relationship with the Father, His authority, and His Perfect Expression of the Father’s will. As the Disciples’ training drew to a close, just before the Crucifixion, Jesus said straight out that He had manifested all of this to them… they had seen all of this.

To the Multitudes, at the opening of His ministry, Jesus simply makes this statement… that the Father’s will is, and will be, done in each moment here on earth just as it prevails in heaven.

Only word I know for this… Sovereignty… and, when you place these petals on the Rose among which they are nested, they embrace the listener, the pray-er, right in the big middle of God’s relationship as Father, His Kingdom and domain, and now His Sovereignty and authority.

See where these words, these petals, lead you, Gentle Reader.

 
 

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No Comma… His Kingdom!

Night Castle“When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.’” [Luke 11]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Your kingdom come.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Your mind’s ear may hear that the same way that mine does… as “THY Kingdom come.” If so, that’s fine. We are about a process that started with the Post, “Whose What???!!!” exploring what seems to me like a beautiful Rose. It is the gift of the Lord’s Prayer, first unveiled by Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount, later repeated in a leaner form as instruction to His Disciples on how to pray.

This little “mini-journey” into the past, into trying to “hear HIM as He spoke this” to both the Multitudes and the Disciples, is rather a “prayer laboratory experiment”. I am not trying to “teach” here. The task is not for me to take information, or even insight, garnered from my OWN prayer and experience of these scriptures, and communicate that information to you. The task is vastly more subtle, and more fun, to pick up and examine this extraordinary Gift in myself and my own spirit, make a few gentle and general observations, and encourage you to pick up and examine this Gift in your own spirit… and it will thus be different, look different than mine… and see where the Holy Spirit in YOU guides your consideration.

We are considering the Lord’s Prayer like the unfolding petals of a gorgeous Rose, planted by the Lord and nurtured in the prayer garden of spirit, where we have all the time in the world simply to admire it, watch it unfold, and marvel at its beauty. We are taking one line at a time, considering and savoring the experience, as we let the Spirit echo, reverberate, indicate, and whisper… like sensing the fragrance of this Rose’s perfume, letting the Spirit wash over and through us with whatever He would have us see and know.

This Post considers the line, “Your kingdom come.”

It has been a couple days since the line before was considered, because I have struggled… terribly… with “how to do this”. I needed to sit, ponder, listen, and take instruction of the Lord as to what to type here.

What’s the problem?

Well, for one thing… “God’s Kingdom” is a scripturally gargantuan concept. Old Testament, Gospels, Epistles, to Revelation… the Kingdom of God is a HUGE chunk of understanding, or even RELATING to God as Our King. I needed to sit still, get out of ALL THAT… theology… commentaries… word studies… (one day, you may want to go check out the distinctions between “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of heaven”… both generally translated in English Bibles as “kingdom of God”… lol… you have no idea!) All that “stuff” just tends spontaneously to “spring up” around the phrase “Your kingdom come”, like weeds seem to burst forth in a rose garden. I KNEW getting lost and entranced in and by all that minutiae is/was simply NOT what the Lord would have of this post.

Second, there’s Greek. (There is a reason for the phrase, “It’s Greek to me!”) This line of the Lord’s Prayer, and the one that follows use an unusual form of language that is very difficult to express in English. This post is NOT meant to be a technical consideration of exegesis (the fancy term for figuring out what Greek really says). To let myself get lost in that, beautiful though it is, would quite defeat the mission here. This blog is NOT a consideration of technical theology or the skills thereof. This is, hopefully, a simple consideration of Jesus Christ and His grace in the lives and walk of those who love and choose to follow Him.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So there I have sat, Gentle Reader. Perched like a frog on a toadstool, asking Jesus for help… trying not to let my “cat herding nature” distract me into chasing a number of very enticing directions. He just said, “Sit! Wait!” And so, I sat and waited.

Finally, today, He answered. I did not expect quite the answer I got… but here it is…

Jesus said I should, “Focus on the comma that isn’t there…”

What? I heard it repeated. It reminded me of a famous Sherlock Holmes exchange between him and Inspector Gregory in the story “Silver Blaze”…

“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
“That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.

And then I understood. Here’s what I can tell you about “the comma that isn’t there”.

When I was young, learned this prayer, memorized this prayer, said and repeated this prayer countless times… in my heart and mind there was always a “COMMA” between “Thy Kingdom” and “Come”. As though it were a command. “Yo! Kingdom! Come HERE!” See? Not that I would express it in so rude a form to Almighty God, but much gentler… yet and expression of command, or maybe of petition.

But later, when I got into higher education and was sentenced to study Greek, I discovered an odd thing here. This word “come” is written in an unusual Greek form, almost like a “magic verb”, that can encompass all sorts of situations in the single word. Past, present, future… completed action, ongoing action… already here, yet coming. As I said, sort of a Mr. Clean Magic Thingy of words. (* tries to avoid twitching at flashback memories of Greek class… wonders if one can get PTSD from surviving Ancient and Koine Greek in consecutive semesters… hopes other survivors of Greek Class out there reading this don’t explode looking at this kind of description *)

Any… wayyyyyy….. (* tries to slide past this extremely sticky wicket with a minimum of stickitude… *)

What I want to suggest, as you look at and handle your own Rose of this verse, is:

What happens when we release all boundaries around the word “Kingdom”? And when we release all boundaries around the word “come”? And when we make sure there is no comma in the phrase?

Like, “What is a Kingdom?” How big is that? Is that a ‘territory’, or a ‘place under authority’? Can one always see the borders and boundaries? Does everyone living there always know they do? All that… any of that…. And the scriptural issues… Where is it? When is it? Is it after we die, out there, up there, somewhere? Is it wherever Jesus IS? Is it within us? Is it among us?

And what if “come” is just vastly bigger than we ever thought. Is it invitation? Yes. But is it statement of something done? Yes. Something happening right now? Yes. Something to happen in the future?

So many echoes. So many ideas. So many meanings… AND HERE’S the COOLEST PART! As God unfolds these incredible petals, one after another, they HARMONIZE like notes in a chord! It is not discord and confusion, but harmony and music! At least, it is if we don’t push or pull… if we just let Jesus highlight and unfurl the Rose.

Great phrase I read a few weeks ago… “You can’t push the river”.

God really marked that for me, especially about prayer and grace. Sometimes, you just enter the water to float with the current, knowing that God alone sets the pace. You can get in or out if you choose, but you cannot stop it, you cannot slow it, and you cannot push it. Once you’re in, you’re in HIS domain, and you can trust that He will handle that perfectly.

Enjoy your Garden, Gentle Reader. Grace to thee! – Little Monk

 

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Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus…

GodThrone“SANCTUS, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua. Hosanna in excelsis. Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini. Hosanna in excelsis”

HOLY, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

What is God’s Name?

We are taking a short journey into the past, looking at how Jesus taught people to pray. No one who has ever walked the earth is more qualified to teach this lesson. Here is a prayer that, as Christians, we learn from our earliest years. Many of us recite it daily as The Lord’s Prayer. Many of us hear and recite it weekly as part of our order of worship. I venture to guess, ALL of us, here reading, KNOW it.

But for several weeks, in my own life, the Lord has returned me to this… this… Marvel. This “Singularity” in the cosmos. He has placed it on a pedestal, like a precious stone in a museum, and shone a brilliant light upon it, bringing me to focus upon these few and simple lines as being one of the most extraordinary gifts He has ever granted to man. It has become like a Rose in the garden of my spirit, slowly, gradually, and beautifully unfolding before me. And I have invited you, Gentle Reader, to find this Rose anew… Your Rose… anew in your own garden, and examine yours as I examine mine.

He granted this Gift, the Lord’s Prayer, in two different forms to us. One rendering was for the Multitudes in the Sermon on the Mount. This form has more words to it, more of a “setting to the gem”.

“Pray, then, in this way:

Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] [Matthew 6]

The other rendering was the direct response to His Disciples request that He “teach them to pray”. This second form is more stark, fewer words, more directive, less explanatory. Why should He waste words on explanations and commentary, when there He was, 24/7, DEMONSTRATING the context for them?

“When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.’” [Luke 11]

In our little process of Lectio Divina here, slow and prayerful reading, allowing time and silence for the Spirit to speak and teach, we will only highlight one phrase. This phrase appears in both versions, and thus it is a “critical instruction” of Jesus teaching on prayer, not a matter of amplification or commentary truth.

“Hallowed be Your name.”

Jesus has just “named God” for His listeners, telling us “how to address Holy God”, and there is no way around the fact that the shock must have been beyond imagining. The Name of God was considered SO sacred, SO holy, that it was not to be spoken or written. It was written in “code” only, a four letter acronym of what God spoke to Moses from the Burning Bush. It was spoken only as “The Lord”. Even in English, in English Bibles, the custom has remained of translating this notation simply as “The Lord”, rather than “Yahweh” (pronunciation of YHWH, the Tetragrammaton acronym of “I AM WHO AM”.)

Like pronouncing the name of “Voldemort” in the Harry Potter stories, and the insistence of most of referring to him only as “The Dark Lord”… even to pronounce these syllables was to invite destruction and wrath.

And then here’s Jesus saying, of all things, “when you speak to Almighty God, you address Him as ‘Dad’, as you would in your home…” Somehow I just see multitudes of listeners standing or sitting there blinking in utter shock, trying even to process the words!

But He goes on, immediately with, “Hallowed be Your Name”…

As earlier, as I sense His leadership throughout this little trip, Gentle Reader, I am NOT going to detail all the nooks and crannies these words have carried me to in spirit. I leave you and the Holy Spirit to explore on your own.

But here’s just a thought or two, a question or two. “Hallowed… Holy… Name of God…” But for myself, for so many years, I could only see “Holy” as an adjective, or an adverb. It was a modifier. It gave some quality, some description, to a noun. The Noun was meaningful and central, the adjective just helpful and descriptive. Hmm? So… “God’s Name has a holy and sacred quality or nature.” Right? That’s what Jesus was saying here, right?

Well, yes. That is very true. But many years later, one day, He challenged… “What if those weren’t just ‘adjective’, but Noun?” That is, what if Jesus was saying that God’s NAME…. was “HOLY”… like “I AM WHO AM”… or “LOVE”… or “FATHER”… or any of the other names we know of God? And what if ALL names, this one included, are all Infinitely Equal and Correct and Expressive of God? That is… God = Love, Love = God, God = Holy, Holy = God, Love = Holy, Holy = Love, and so on? Really gave me pause for quite a while. That was one thought.

The other thought, or question I would leave with you… “What if ‘Father/Dad = Holy”? What if that all encompassing, protective, providing, nurturing, raising-up-a-prince-or-princess-of-Kingdom Love… is ‘Holy’?” What if it is part of the essence of God’s very Holiness, that He loves us as His children? What if it is His love for Children that empowers His essence as Father, and Father is His Holy Name? That probably makes no semantic sense, and I’ll just stop there.

Just see where your Rose unfolds now for you. And I rejoice in that, wherever it leads and whatever it looks like.

Grace to thee, beloved brother or sister. — The Little Monk

 
 

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Would you like Commentary with that?

BibleIt happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” And He said to them, “When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”

Then He said to them, Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” [Luke 11:1-13]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Yesterday, we spoke of the Lord’s Prayer. We spoke of a Rose, a gorgeous Rose, unfolding slowly… gradually… beautifully. We are about a small, short journey of only 7 lines or so, in a process called (in some traditions) “Lectio Divina”. It does not matter whether one has ever heard the term… it is simply a “prayerful reading” process, a “reading while listening intently” for the motions and whispers of the Holy Spirit. This is intensely PERSONAL, so that “my Rose” is not “your Rose” and can never be such. Yours, as painted by the Spirit, will be lovely… every bit as lovely as mine, but its contours may be different.

Yesterday, rather than yet focusing on the Rose itself, we looked at the garden where it nestles. The garden for this wondrous Rose was, before His arrival, a terrible place. Like the nightmarish thorns, thistles, bracken hedging the Castle of Sleeping Beauty of fable… people saw themselves as “chained”, “in bondage”, claimed as His own by a dangerous and terrifying God. People had to worship in just the right way, live in just the right way, follow the Law in just the right way, or risk destruction by His wrath. The very first experience of God, a boy’s presentation to God, shed the boy’s blood and scarred him forever. This, was part of The Covenant.

This was the garden in which God’s Rose bloomed. This was the background against which the Lord Jesus, the Rose of Sharon, the Prince of Peace, the Lord of Lords… revealed the heart of God to people God had transformed from those who “were no people”, and now “were His Chosen People”, into His children… through unfolding the Lord’s Prayer. This was the stage upon which Jesus threw Light upon our Relationship with God, as “Our Father”.

But there was a second revelation of the Lord’s Prayer. There was a Second Stage, a Second Act. Jesus blossomed a Second Rose, and it differed a bit. For this morning I would like to compare these two Roses, again not to dissect or analyze, but simply to marvel at the differences God designed into the Two Roses in my garden. Then, I will invite you to look at the ones He has for you, that you see what He lights up for you, your own mind, your own heart, your own spirit.

To the Multitudes on the Sermon Mount, Jesus said:

“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
‘Give us this day [e]our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] [Matthew 6:9-13]

But to the DISCIPLES… to those who had left everything to follow this itinerant Preacher hither and yon… to those who ate with Him, walked with Him, slept with Him, suffered heat or cold with Him, who watched His miracles, heard His teaching 24/7, listened to Him laugh or weep… and beyond all else… watched Him go apart from time to time, just to be with His Father in prayer…

THEY, after watching Him go apart to pray, upon His return… asked Him to teach THEM to pray that way. John the Baptist had taught his disciples to pray. Our parents, our Sunday School teachers, our priests, pastors, and ministers teach us how to pray. I myself, spend my career and life, in a very real sense… “teaching prayer” to those I serve. So, imagine if you will, what it would be like… what would it FEEL like, to be in private, in seclusion, just those of you really surrendered and dedicated to Jesus… “just us’ns” so to speak… and as Jesus Himself, just having returned from prayer as the Son of Holy God… to ask HIM to teach us to pray.

How surprising was it? How… disappointing, maybe? What would be going through our little “dedicated, sanctified, surrendered… we are special” disciple minds, for Jesus simply to answer:

“When you pray, say:
‘Father, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
‘Give us each day our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.’” [Luke 11:2-4]

WHAT??!! But that’s the SAME THING isn’t it? Isn’t that the same teaching Jesus gave the MASSES at Sermon on the Mount? If we were the disciples, wouldn’t we be surprised? Shocked? Perhaps a bit “put out”? Wouldn’t we be muttering amongst ourselves, “here we are… roughing it out here wandering village to town, crossing the sea in a fishing boat, healing the sick, casting out demons, preachers OURSELVES?? And there, after coming down the hillside from communing with the GREAT I AM, Yahweh HIMSELF, Jesus only tells us the same thing He said to those mere… PEOPLE??!!” (And if you don’t think the disciples struggled with these issues of pride and special favor amongst themselves, you’ve missed a lot of the narrative of the Gospels, lol.) I don’t know if these thoughts would cross YOUR mind, Gentle Reader… but I myself struggle enough with pride and arrogance, that I’m honest enough to say that they may cross mine.

But if they did, I would be wrong, deeply wrong. The prayers are NOT the same, but they have a subtle difference. The difference is completely understandable, through the difference of their contexts, their stage settings. Jesus DID respond to the “status difference” in these two sets of instructions. But the difference is not one that appeals to pride, but rather to discipline and maturity.

We will look at the “lines of the prayer” as this little mini-journey moves forward, but for right now I just want to point towards the simple, and subtle differences between these instructions.

The Lord’s Prayer, as taught in Sermon on the Mount, includes “commentary”. It includes words that condition, describe, expand upon, or amplify, the main action of each line. If you take a few moments in your next Bible Study time, and just write out the Sermon on the Mount version… and then on the right hand side of the paper, write out the Disciples’ version… you will see that the “differing words” or the “extra words” in the Sermon on the Mount, are all “clarification”.

I could go on now, in some detail line by line… but I do not have unction to do so. You, Gentle Reader, are a capable Bible scholar. You are led of the Spirit. You are engaged in the express enterprise of deepening your walk and experience of “hearing”, “sensing the leadership of”, or “being taught by” the Holy Spirit Himself. You may be the pastor of, or a teacher in, a church of your own. You most definitely are in love with Jesus, and listening to Him with the ears of your heart. I know this, or you would not be here.

So, I leave this with you now, Gentle Reader. I simply note, Jesus has to add “amplification” and “explanatory notes” to His instructions on how to pray, for those who do NOT walk with Him consistently. For those who DO so, He does not consider that “padding” necessary. Like any great Teacher, Master, His expectations of the Disciples are higher than for the Multitudes. They are expected to know, and understand, what is “left out” in the Luke instructions…

Why does He expect them to know what He does not say? Because He is RIGHT THERE with them, walking with them, sweating with them… SHOWING THEM the truth of the words He leaves out.

His question to me… and you can see if it speaks to you… but His question to me on all this, was, “Little Monk? Which is YOUR prayer today? The one for the Multitudes? Or the one for My Friends?” And, do I WALK the truth, the reality, He reveals here?

We’ll look more at these Roses… I promise. Grace to thee, Gentle Reader!

 

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Giving “Orders” to God?

7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

9 “Pray, then, in this way:

Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’

14 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This prayer, usually called “The Lord’s Prayer” or the “Our Father”, is probably the singularly best known, most frequently uttered set of sacred words on the face of the earth. Despite our denominational differences, our exegetical attitudes and conflicts of interpretation of Holy Writ, these words, these simple words from the lips of Jesus unite us in worship and surrender to the Lord of Hosts.

They came to me this morning, as I contemplated the first cup of coffee of the day, and as I sat down at this lovely table watching birds hunting worms among the ever heightening grass of the back yard, God asked me a question…

“Do you understand this prayer?”

It really hardly seemed fair. I wasn’t even halfway through this first cup of coffee, and couldn’t claim even to “understand” how to operate my own automatic coffee maker (hence it is programmed the night before), and the Lord asks me something like this…

“I’m going to take a wild shot in the dark, here, Lord… and say ‘no’… ‘no I don’t’… for at this precise moment, that is true. Although I’ll admit, when I move through my typical day, I think I understand it.”

To which He laughed and said, “Ah, I know that. But that’s why I’m specifically asking you right now. Once you attain full speed in your day, you are much more on ‘auto pilot’, and you assume that you understand things just because you’ve heard them over and over again so much that you just credit them as being true. When you are like this… you are actually forced to slow down and think things through. I can teach you better this way. Now, HOW do you understand this prayer?”

I blinked… quite a bit… swallowed some more coffee… tried, as best I could, to think clearly and answer. ‘How did I understand this prayer?’ Well, (I thought silently), it starts off establishing our relationship with God and with each other, it places our petitions and needs before our Father, and it ends with affirmation of His greatness and role in the universe. It sort of “covers all the bases” for our day, our lives… identifies God (“hallowed be thy name”)… identifies His agenda and authority (“thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven)… establishes our dependence on Him (“give us this day our daily bread”)… acknowledges our need for His mercy and for our own (“and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”)… acknowledges our need for His guidance and protection (“and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”)… and states why and how He has the authority and sovereignty to do all this (“for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever,)… and we yield and agree to that (“Amen”).

As I put all these bits together, rather slowly and carefully, the Lord was kind enough to just receive them, relieving me of the need to reframe them into speech. So He nodded in seeming approval, at least of the fact that I could yet construct a train of thought, notwithstanding whether it was correct or not. As He lifted His coffee cup, He said, “Now, Little Monk, consider your ‘verbs’ there…”

Verbs? Ugh, let’s see… verbs, I used to know what ‘verbs’ meant… ah yes, “action words”, “action or state of being”. I could do this… find the verbs, ok.

So I said, thinking more in the modern English, “are, be, come, done, is, give, forgive, forgive, lead, deliver, is.”

“Good,” He replied. “Now remove the ones that describe God and the relationship. Focus on the others. Look at ‘give’, ‘forgive’, ‘forgive’, ‘lead’, and ‘deliver’. In fact, take out that second ‘forgive’ since it refers to what you do not what God does. Now, what do you have left?”

“I have ‘give’, ‘forgive’, ‘lead’, and ‘deliver’,” I said, sitting up straight and tall smiling at successfully surmounting this hurdle and correctly calculating the verbs!

“Very good!” He approved. “Now, here’s My question… As you and most people typically think of those words, in that prayer, aren’t they ‘imperative’?”

Ack! “Imperative”… wait a moment, I know that word, just give me a minute. Grammar… voice… yes, something about types of verbs… um… Ah, yes, and “imperative verb” is one of command, an order, an instruction. Like saying, “Come here”, or “Go there”. Er… I started to see a problem here with the Lord’s question. Of course I’ve always thought of these verbs as “imperative case”, that’s the only way they’ve ever been spoken or taught in my environment, in my life, among the people I congregate with. Of course, we don’t really FOCUS on that little point. Now that He has called my attention to it, it seems to present some… er, “uncomfortable implications”. Of course, He was still waiting for my answer…

“Well, uh, yes, I suppose they are.”

“Now, Little Monk, does that ‘sit right’ with you? Does that even make any sense? Does it seem as if I would teach you, or my disciples, or those who would come after them, to ‘give orders’ to My Father, to Our Father? More to the point, beyond any of the ‘respect’ issues raised by such a possibility, does it even make sense that such ‘orders’ would be NEEDED? I mean, do you REALLY think you have to ‘think up and command’ that Our Father take basic care of His children? Or that I would even permit in My presence, let alone teach or encourage, such an attitude or view?”

“Well, Lord, now that You mention it… um… no, not really. Doesn’t make sense. So… there’s something new here for me to learn, right?” I followed up.

“Yes, I would like you to understand that just as I said,32b your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.’ When you pray this, realize that those verbs are not ‘words of command’ to the Father, nor even ‘words of suggestion’ or ‘words of reminding Him what is needed’… none of that. Those are simple statements of the case, they are affirmation of what IS. Your Father, Our Father, provides all those things for you all the time… provision, forgiveness, safe leadership, and protection from darkness. You need not be anxious about that, but you DO need to realize their availability, the faithfulness of His grace, and your need to look for and receive them.

“The Father gives all these things, does all these things, each and every day. But you can only see them, only receive them, only benefit from them, when you are ‘looking His direction’ and have your hands open or your steps ready to follow. When His children look in other directions, or order their steps apart from Him or following an unworthy lead… those blessings are missed.

“When you pray this, realize that from beginning to end you are simply stating WHAT IS THE CASE… and orienting yourself, your gaze, your steps, your will into alignment with His. That is where and how you will ever find and experience maximum blessing, joy, grace, and safety.”

“Got it! Thank you, Lord.” And we continued drinking our coffee…

 

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