Most Powerful Prayers…#2

Beats me why this isn’t #1.  Jesus tells us that this is How to Pray and this book makes it #2.  Oh well, let’s continue on….

Matthew 6:vi

When you pray, go into your [most] private room, and, closing the door, pray to your Father, Who is in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open.

And when you pray, do not heap up phrases (multiply words, repeating the same ones over and over) as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their much speaking.Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

Pray, therefore, like this: Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed (kept holy) 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 ([e]left, remitted, and let go of the debts, and have [f]given up resentment against) our debtors.13 And lead (bring) us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

14 For if you forgive people their trespasses [their [g]reckless and willful sins, [h]leaving them, letting them go, and[i]giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

15 But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their [j]reckless and willful sins, [k]leaving them, letting them go, and [l]giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.

                PRAYER is the gateway to God’s heart. Who better to open the gate for us than the Son whom he loved? Who better to give us instruction on prayer than the one who lived by prayer, the one who did only what he saw his Father doing—the one who said only what he heard his Father saying?

The first line in the Lord’s “primer on prayer” settles several of our most basic issues of faith. Whose father are we talking to?

Is he someone else’s father or ours? Is he someone we know only from a distance? Is he a father we can trust and call on in a time of trouble, or is he some capricious deity who is playing tricks on us?

In this first line we learn that he is our good Father. I know my human father well. He loves me and takes pride in me. Whenever I was in a play or a recital, he was there. Mom said he enjoyed sitting somewhere near the front, and at some point during the performance he would inevitably point me out to another parent sitting nearby.

“She’s ours,” he would say, “third from the left.” Dad also found ways to include me in his grown-up world. I remember him letting me sit in his lap and steer our old maroon Ford coupe when I was only four or five. Of course we only went up and down the driveway, but in some way I felt he was handing over a special adult responsibility to me, and I loved it. If God is our Father, he’s like that. He is up close and personal. He’s in heaven, yes. But he did not stay at a distance. He came to earth to walk the human journey alongside us through the life of his Son. “Hallowed be your name.” In the time and the culture of our Lord, to speak someone’s name was to speak of his character. To some extent this is still true in our time and culture.

If you say that someone smeared your name, you are saying that the other person had smudged your reputation or character. Hallowed is another word for holy, so to say “Hallowed be your name” would be the same as saying “Holy is your name” or “Your name is holy.”

Putting these definitions and “translations” together enables us to come up with one of the most basic phrases of worship in the language of prayer. “Hallowed be your name” could be translated: “Lord, our God. Your character is holy. Your personality is pure and precious and without flaw. Holy is your name, O Lord. Holy is your name.”

The next time you say the Lord’s prayer, don’t let that first line slip by without realizing what you are saying: Our Father, the God who loves us, the one whom we can trust and turn to—our Father, your home is in heaven but it is also in our hearts.

Your name and your character are holy and righteous and without flaw. Amen.

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