Thursday, February 26th

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then in this way: ‘Our Father 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 bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.’  For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  Matthew 6:7-15

 

This prayer is a vivid illustration of the depth and breadth of God’s love for us.  Jesus teaches us to pray for exactly what we need, precisely what makes life worth living and specifically what sustains us.

 

We’re invited to address God as our “Father.”  Our God wants to be known, not simply as a “deity” but as a “Daddy.”  As one who loves, protects, disciplines and provides for His children.

 

The Kingdom of God, the reign of God, is a relationship that provides the best for us and seeks the best from us.  Safe neighborhoods, good government, honest business practices, just behaviors among people, deep concern for the least and the vulnerable, a good life because it is a godly life – these are the benefits of life under the rule of a loving King.

 

How does this Kingdom come?  When, by the power of the Holy Spirit and the surrender of our renegade wills, God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven.  The good and gracious will of God, enacted in real life among real people, brings to us the benefits of the Kingdom.

 

Daily bread, wrote Martin Luther, means “everything our bodies need such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, homes, fields, livestock, money, property, an upright spouse, upright children, upright workers, upright and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, decency, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors and the like.”  Luther understood that it takes more than bread to sustain our lives.  “Daily” means we live our lives one day at a time in God’s Kingdom.

 

Forgiveness.  In an imperfect world, comprised on imperfect people, perfection will not perfect us.  We will disappoint ourselves and one another.  Relationships will teeter and tear.  Only forgiveness, given in response to what God has first given us, can be the glue to the fabric of life.  Not forgiveness in theory but in reality.  Sin with skin on it, so that our forgiveness of one another echoes the forgiving love of God.

 

All of this is as fragile as our brokenness.  All of this is to be, if it is to be at all, in the face of the constant hostile opposition posed by our own selfishness and sin and the forces of anti-life we call “evil”.  The forces as large as the ideas that THIS time violence will triumph, or as small as THIS time eating sugar will be better for me than eating my vegetables.  The constant temptation to seek gods who are not God, security from sand, peace from power, magic rather than honest daily work.  Thus we pray for God’s protection, most often given by illuminating a path less often traveled.

 

For all of this, Jesus would have us pray.  As Jesus says, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

 

Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, our Father, our God, our Creator and Redeemer and Sustainer, may we never stray from our reliance on you and may we make the most of every day you give us in our time on earth.  Be our guide and our God, that we might surrender to your will and seek your path in our lives.  Thank you for your love toward us.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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