First the Kingdom, episode 34: Praying the Lord’s Prayer
Back in 1963, the day in our local Junior High school began either in the main auditorium or home room with the pledge of allegiance and the Lord’s Prayer. Eventually a recent Supreme Court decision that school sponsored prayer was unconstitutional began to change that tradition. I specifically remember our home room teacher announcing to us that she would continue to pray the Lord’s Prayer, but also that anyone in the room could freely opt out.
Even though prayer was not technically banned from schools, the public perception was that our government had joined the movement of modern times against simple faith in an all-powerful God. As much as the opponents of public prayer in schools have denied this, the results speak for themselves. The fact is, believers can always pray in the USA. The real loss is what the children who did not know Christ might have gained from learning this prayer back then. Today I would add that even some children of of believing families have often lost the rich benefits of knowing and reciting this prayer.
Some time back I attended the funeral of a retired police officer. At the grave site, the pastor recited a passage of scripture and began praying “Our Father, Who art in heaven….” Immediately, and without prompting, everyone there began to join him in the prayer that was well known to his generation. It was a refreshing experience that brought me back to those junior high school days when hundreds of students would recite this prayer together!
One complaint I heard from a Jewish girl was that she did not want to pray a Christian prayer. In fact all the elements of this prayer can be found in the prayers of their own Hebrew scriptures, known to Christians as the Old Testament. I count myself greatly and richly blessed to have been taught from the entire Bible, both the old and new testaments. In the Lord’s Prayer I am reminded how Jesus felt about past generations, the promises that were given unto them, and the hope of the fulfillment that he was bringing.
This model prayer sums up the foundational and crucial elements of the Christian life. It keeps us mindful of the intimate relationship we have with our Heavenly Father, and our goal to glorify Him.
As we pray We become conscious of our part in bringing righteousness, peace and joy – His kingdom to this earth. We understand our constant need for Him, His provisions and His forgiveness, as well as our need to forgive others.
Finally in it we seek for His guidance and protection every day, and acknowledge that everything good, loving and holy comes from His reign over us in power and eternal victory.
Anyone who is at all familiar with the prayers in the Bible should know that God listens to all sorts of prayers. We are in no way limited to praying this one short prayer. At the same time the use of this or any memorized prayer should not be looked down on as ritualistic. what is in our hearts? That seems to be the important thing. When I think of how Jesus Himself gave us this wonderful gift to teach us and encourage us in prayer, how or why would we refuse it?
I invite you to pray along with me today:
Our Father who 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.
If. Such a very small word. Just two letters. But the meaning contained in these two letters could lead to either life or death. They could become an open door to endless possibilities, or perhaps spell perpetual gloom and darkness. I wonder, could we take the time to explore the power of the word, “if,” by studying God’s use of it in the scriptures? What exactly are the possibilities that the Creator of the universe holds out to us, as we seriously and humbly handle His Living and inspired Word?
In a day when depressing news travels at the speed of light, and the vanities of the rich and famous are common knowledge, apathy has become a popular commodity. So much time is taken up talking about the world’s problems, but so little action is taken. The common attitude is that nothing can really be done, and many Christians are certain that nothing should be done, for this world is soon coming to an end. When that happens, we Christians will not be here anyway. Therefor all that remains is to lead as many as we can to a safe zone for retreat, and wait for our Lord’s return.
But what IF? What if we were to plunge deep into His Word and discover the latent power of this word, IF? Perhaps there are some hidden treasures therein by which we can recover from our apathetic comfort zones, and rise up to the occasion for the greater glory of God! This small word might have a great significance indeed, as we allow the wonderful Spirit of God to breathe life into it!
Israel of old was confronted by the Lord with this little word on many occasions. In the 7th Chapter of 2 Chronicles, the Lord was holding out to Solomon the King, some of the possible futures that the people might choose. He showed him how Israel might find herself in situations very similar to those which we are experiencing in our modern times. Wars, pestilence and famines could occur to those in disobedience, but there was a way out. This way out begins with an IF.
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
By now I can hear various dissenting voices. “That was the Old Testament, they were under a different covenant, so long ago.” “God has a predetermined plan today, and there is nothing we can do to alter it.” Or how about, “We are good people, without sin, for Christ has abolished sin on the cross. For what should we repent?”
There is only one answer I can give. What IF? What if those who long to see the glory of God upon His people again would take a chance and PRAY? What if enough of us realized that we have all been living far beneath our privileges, and possessed the courage to ask God “Why?” and “What would you have us to do?” What if we were to take the initiative presented by James, to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, and to draw nigh unto Him that He might draw nigh unto us?
What if we were to accept the challenge of Jesus to ask that we might receive, seek that we might find, to knock that the door would be opened unto us? Is there even the slightest possibility that we might prove the Lord, and He could open the windows of heaven unto us? Do you think?
What if, we might have long failed to realize that the Lord is eagerly waiting to rain down upon us with showers of life, healing and blessing? Perhaps the only delay was our ignorance or willingness to acknowledge our desperate need! Please, my brother, my sister, consider the possibilities! Consider what our wonderful Savour and Lord can do and desires to do on our behalf! After all, it was He who said, ” IF YOU CAN BELIEVE, all things are possible!
Our Lord is so gracious and kind towards us! He is quick to acknowledge our virtues and accomplishments. He is also patient to wait for our steady spiritual growth in Him, but His patience does not negate His wonderful and glorious purpose which His wisdom has designed for us. Neither does He take pleasure in our powerlessness to deal with many of the challenges of life. His vision for us is one of abundant and victorious living!
In the third chapter of Revelations, Jesus was addressing the church at Ephesis. He spoke more than a few words about the good works they had done. They had been diligent and faithful unto Him and in many ways. They had been very careful to dot their i’s and cross their t’s. For this He commended them.
But…. He did have one complaint to make to them. He told them that they had left their first love. His solution was for them to repent and do the works they had done at the first. This was not to condemn them, but to lift them up into a higher level of love, life and joy in Him!
The following words may not apply to you. If so, then maybe you could pray for the rest of us! For you are definitely not in need yourself. But if you do sense a hunger within and a need for more of God, then please read on.
How long has it been since you thought of Jesus in your first waking moments? How long has it been since your love for Him was more pleasurable to you than your favorite hobby or television program? How long ago did you feel the beating of His Heart compelling you to do something really sacrificial for someone else? Do you still remember when heaven was very real to you, for your consciousness was filled with His glorious presence!
Of course seasons come and go, and the spring and summer must give way to the winter and fall. This is part of God’s grand design. But we cannot rely only on the weather to determine our faithfulness, love and devotion towards our Lord, and to one another.
It seems that the time to return to the freshness of spring has come. With that comes a purity and the rapture of new found love! For many of us, repentance is not enough. Some changes must be made in our life-styles, to make room for the Lord, and His pre-eminence. Then the Lord whom we seek will suddenly come to fill His Temple, which we are, anew!
This is not to suggest He has ever left us. His promises to us ensure that will never happen. Nothing can separate us from His love! What actually happens often times, is that in our business of normal living, we forget about Him. And as the gentle dove, which will never intrude, He patiently awaits our realization that we have lost our communication with Him. Very slowly, and steadily, coldness and indifference sets in, with little notice. This state soon becomes accepted for normal, until His Word comes to awaken us.
Many of us fail to realize our need, while we are very busy doing good deeds or maintaining religious forms. Like the Ephesians, we confuse duty with devotion. The Lord was quick to remind us that works of obedience must accompany faith and love, and that they are actually inseparable. But how can we really do the works of God in our own power?
It has become a popular belief that the demonstrations of power and deliverance that the early church manifested were not intended for today. If that is what some believe, it is their right. Certainly they have the evidence on their side. But what IF? What if we completely gave ourselves unto the Lord for His service? What might He do through yielded vessels? Is there a limit to God? Does He answer to any restraints, other than those self-imposed by His own will? Did not Jesus say that even greater works than these shall you do? If my words abide in you, and you abide in me……?
Think of the possibilities! Some of you might be meeting Jesus today for the very first time. Others may be needing a fresh infilling of His Spirit. It matters not where you are now, Jesus is ready and willing to bring you into His world! His kingdom is of another dimension, another attitude, another reality! In it you will instantly see how irrelevant your present cares and petty desires really are in comparison to His Glorious Presence!
He is not calling us to live lives of guilt and self-abasement, but He does need humble, broken and submissive hearts. These are the tools that He has always used to turn the world upside down! Please allow me to exhort you one more time. Let us give ourselves more completely and unreservedly unto Him! Let us behold His glory and be released from all bondages as His face shines upon us! Let us now begin to live out the words of this old chorus: “I keep falling in love with Him, over and over, and over and over again!”
Home Church Network
Another site that might be of interest to some of you adventuresome souls. Here you will find a wealth of inspirational resources that hope to bring glory to our Lord Jesus Christ, and encourage your deeper walk with Him!