Monday, January 15, 2007

Continuing with Sermon on the Mount

There were two messages that I didn't post, and I will try and get back to those, but for now I will post briefly the last two messages on the Sermon on the mount.

Two Sundays ago I spoke about the Lord's Prayer, or as some people now call it the disciples prayer. This prayer is not really a prayer, but an outline for how we are to pray. Jesus says directly before telling us this prayer that we should not pray in vain repetition, and I believe this means that we are not to just repeat the same prayer or words over and over again. There are some that disagree with this saying that it is not repetition but vain repetition, and that since Jesus gave us this prayer it is not vain, and should be repeated. Which is fair enough, but repeating the same words over and over again, does not seem to be a way in which I connect to God, nor grow in my own spirituality, so I do not practice that.

My belief is that prayer is not about us asking God for stuff, or blessings. Prayer is a centering excercise, where we begin to connect with the creator of all, and are changed in the process. And often when praying for others or things, we often are changed internally and in these changes are called to become part of the answer to these prayers.

A missionary that I had the priviledge of meeting years ago told us that after Castro had thrown him in prison for years, took away his family home, and eventually banished he and his family to Spain, homeless and destitute, he was filled with hatred for him. So he began to pray for Fidel Castro. His testimony to us was that for ten years he prayed for Castro, and that at the end of this time he was not sure that Castro had changed at all, but that he had changed himself. Prayer is our interacting with God, and through this our hearts are made right.

So this prayer takes us through an outline of prayer. This can get very deep, but I am taking it a bit less so.

Our Father in heaven: The first word is not my, but our, it is a word of inclusion, we are all God's children. And when we go to God in prayer, it is in proper relationship. We are sons and daughters of a heavenly parent. And prayer is a relational thing, we approach as children, not as scared creatures.

Hallowed is you name: Remember this is a Jewish crowd Jesus is speaking to. And to them "the Name" was a huge deal. So much so that you were never to speak the name, nor write it down. The reverence for "the name" was one of the formost parts of Judaism. The beauty of this is that "the name" means essentially, the one who is. As we approach God we must recognize that He is. And in that meaning, He "is" with us. Now there is great study about the compound names of God, and it is good to look at these, but in my mind there is great power in the simplicity of "the name".

Your kingdom come, and your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven: this is where we pray for God's will to be done on earth. My first goal in prayer is for God's will to be done in my life, in my decisions, in my priorities. I then pray for God's will for my family, then my church, then my neighborhood, then the world. Gods kingdom is meant to be lived here, and we must make our connection with God, and be oriented properly with him to bring this kingdom to our world.

Give us this day, our daily bread: Not help us to have our needs met for the next week, or the next year, or into retirement, but take care of my needs today. The daily trust of God is necessary for a fulfilled life.

Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those that sin against us: We must not only be forgiven people, confessing our sins to God, but also be forgiving people. I will speak more about this tomorrow as the next message deals with forgiveness. But I will say that it would seem that if this is to be practiced we must choose to be forgiving people, both seeking forgiveness, and extending it.

Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil: I don't understand this as well as I would like, but I would say we are asking God to keep us away from the things that would cause us to sin, to recognize temptations, and steer clear of them before their strength increases, and to deliver us from direct attack spiritually. Realizing that temptation is all around us, luring us towards self gratification and reliance, and also realizing that there is contrary forces, and powers that be that are directly aimed at causing us to live outside of Gods kingdom, we must be ever vigilant in prayer and awareness.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever: Good to end on a high huh? We are called to remember that God's kingdom is "the kingdom". It is not God's insecurity that needs calming here but our own. We must remember that it is God's kingdom, and it is where we belong.

As you pray, begin to use this outline as a way of directing your prayers. I desire to pray in a way that truly causes me to change.



Doug said...

I'm glad to see you put in to words What I've have been feeling in my heart.

David said...

Forgiveness is something I need to practise, too.

I'll be buggered, though, if I see any evidence that it is a teaching followed by most Christians. Of course, I'm not talking about your good self, Rev.

What I see instead, are Christian groups and individuals fighting one another from their fortified (but crumbling) strongholds.

Please don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that these arguments stop - keep them going, they provide much ammusement to the rest of us.

Angry and Shallow said...

Hi Rev....good one mate.

mike said...

Wrestling with this right now as for two years I've been trying to work some form of "fixed hour prayer" into my life but I keep getting drawn back here -- Jesus said, "Pray like this..." Any thoughts, pros/cons, about breaking this into three parts for morning, noon, & evening prayer times?