Hi friends, this is Rachal and I’m glad to be with you today. For those of you who have walked through the gospels with us, well done, what a fruitful journey it has been! And, if you are a new listener, we sure are glad to have you! 2021 has just begun and we are starting the year with 21 days of prayer and fasting - seeking God together as a church family. For the reading plan and Anchored Daily we’ll spend this week learning from and praying some of the prayers of Jesus. Next week we’ll look at some of the prayers of Paul and finally we’ll wrap up learning about prayer in the Psalms. Seeking God together with you is the best way to jump into 2021.
Prayer: I’ve prayed a lot of different prayers in my life, I’m guessing you have too. When I was little, every time I messed up, I said the “I’m sorry God, I really do want to follow you and receive your salvation” prayer. I wasn’t confident that I truly was forgiven, and I really wanted to avoid hell.
Fast forward to high school when I was running cross country. I often got so nervous before big races that I’d pray and ask God to come back quickly, like right now, before the race started.
Clearly I had (and have) much to learn about God and prayer.
And sometimes prayer is hard; the grief is overwhelming, the situation difficult, murky or tragic and we don’t even know the words to pray. I’ve been here too.
For these reasons among others, I’m especially grateful for our text today and how Jesus taught us to pray. We often refer to this passage as the Lord’s prayer and it’s found in Matthew 6:9-13 (CSB)
It begins with Jesus saying - “Therefore, you should pray like this:” When a passage starts with a “therefore” it means that we should look back and see what it’s there for. We find Jesus in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount. Immediately before this he’s talking about how not to pray - don’t pray to be seen by others, or with an abundance of fancy words. Instead, pray like this: Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy. 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 do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
There are two aspects I’d like to highlight. First, we start by recognizing who God is and giving Him glory, we reflect on His majesty and holiness. Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy. We remember who we are praying to. He is the only One who is Sovereign, holy, pure, infinite, eternal, all-knowing. No matter what is going on in the world, in my own life; no matter the needs and the heartbreak - He is still and always will be God.
Second, we pray for daily bread. Not weekly bread, not a year’s worth of bread, not a well laid out plan for all the days. Daily bread. This is a call to dependence on God. It is an invitation to come back, again and again to ask, trusting that each time the provision will be enough. Sometimes the provision looks different than we hoped. In fact when God provided bread for the Israelites in the desert they called it manna (what is it?). We humbly lay down our requests for all we need, and we trust in the God who answers. Now, I don’t really like to be needy or really to keep asking. I do like to have clarity and a plan that will work out, quickly and with a happy ending. I want to know that my son’s heart will keep beating, that it will heal, that my friend's marriage will thrive rather than end in ashes, that the pandemic will end and the kids will go back to school (Deo Volente). YetI recognize that in these requests the desire for clarity, answers, and a plan is more about me being in control and my own lack of trust in the provision of daily bread. In continually coming to my Heavenly Father, my faith and trust in Him are strengthened and my heart more aligned with His.
Let’s pray as Jesus taught us: Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy. 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 do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Amen