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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Journey to the Cross - Our Father

The "Our Father" is the nicname for Jesus' model prayer. Many Christian churches say it together at every service.The rooms of Alcoholic Anonymous contain people from every religion, socioeconomic group, and culture. They have one thing in common - addiction has leveled them and destroyed their lives.They’ve also discovered a secret. If they call out to God, He’ll help if they let Him, regardless of their circumstances or beliefs. While AA is careful not to identify with any particular religion or sect, the universal words of the Lord’s Prayer end many meetings. Like everyone else in the AA rooms, Jesus remains anonymous as they beg a common Father for the much-needed help.


Morning Meditation



Read Isaiah 64:8.
Isa 64:8

Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. NIV

God is father to everyone, regardless of personal opinions. Enjoy that truth.
• Some reject the truth of God’s fatherhood. Allow the pain of that to wash over you.
• Offer yourself as clay for the master potter.



Morning Prayer


Pray to Our Father, asking for what you need.
• Pray the Lord’s Prayer slowly and carefully.
• Tell God your joys, fears, and needs. Praise Him in everything.
• Pray for knowledge of God’s will for you today and the power to carry that out.
• Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.



Morning Bible Study



God is our Father. In the beginning, He created us in His image for His pleasure. He gave us free will, which we often use for our detriment. Because of our confusion and mistakes, God came to earth to show us how to live and love. On His journey to the cross, He took a brief moment to teach us how to communicate with Our Father.

Each of the scriptures below are written first in the King James translation and then in the paraphrase, The Message. Compare and contrast the meanings as you study this important prayer.

Read Matthew 6:9.

Matt 6:9

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. KJV



With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this: Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. The Message



Whose Father is the prayer to?

• What are we asking of our Father?




Jesus knew what He would be facing at the end of His journey on earth. The agonizing trip to the cross was the will of the Father and best for humanity.



Read Matthew 6:10.



Matt 6:10

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. KJV



Set the world right; Do what's best — as above, so below. The Message



Where is God’s will always done?

• Are you willing to pray for God’s will on earth regardless of what it means for you personally?




In Matthew 6:11, Jesus gave us permission to ask for our daily needs. Read and pray His simple prayer.



Matt 6:11

Give us this day our daily bread. KJV



Keep us alive with three square meals. The Message



Do you remember to pray daily for your needs?

• Are your daily needs met?




Not only did Jesus tell us to forgive, He showed us how to forgive by praying the words, ”Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) We witness His agony on the cross and willingness to forgive and become able to forgive others their petty wrongs against us.



Read Matthew 6:12.



Matt 6:12

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. KJV



Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. The Message



What are the 2 parts of this prayer?

• How do you think forgiving and being forgiven are related?




Like us, Jesus was tempted and gave us hope by His stern words, “Get thee behind me Satan.” (Mark 8:33.) Read Matthew 6:13.



Matt 6:13

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: KJV



Matt 6:13

Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. The Message



What is the prayer?

• What are the two things we need safety from in the paraphrase, The Message?




The last part of this prayer is not in the earliest manuscripts but I included it anyway because I like it and pray it. Read Matthew 6:13.



Matt 6:13

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. KJV



You're in charge! You can do anything you want! You're ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes. The Message



Is God in charge of your life?

• Do you recognize His beauty?




By using the words, “Our Father,” Jesus meant to be inclusive and not exclusive. When I travel, talking to people about Jesus, I try not to debate their beliefs. I often encourage them to pray the words, “Our Father,” asking the God they don’t believe in to reveal Himself in truth and light. It has been my observation that when people sincerely pray this prayer, the truth of Jesus Christ becomes evident without my having to do, or say another thing besides letting them know I’m a Christian. Our Father is truly ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes.


Application



Every morning was the same. I arrived at the red brick Ruth N. Upson Elementary School and formed a line outside my classroom. When the first bell rang, wiggly excited children filed into the room to put away our coats and books. I can still smell the wooden floors, chalk, and the slightly sour cafeteria aroma that assaulted my senses as I left the fresh air and entered the musty damp building. By the time the second bell rang, we were in our seats waiting expectantly for the loud speaker.



The crackle and loud blaring feedback from the box in the corner of our ceiling announced that the principal was ready to begin. We stood, faced the flag, and laid our hands over our hearts in solemn pledge of allegiance to one nation under God. Then our principal led us in what she called the Lord’s Prayer.




Our Father which 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 trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.




Together, the Muslims, Jews, agnostics, and Christians prayed to one father, asking for deliverance from evil. I didn’t include the word atheist because those innocent young children hadn’t yet thought to reject Our Father. I did include agnostics, because some of the children were mature enough to begin a search for their Father, even if they hadn’t been introduced to Him in church. God answered our prayers and protected our schools from evil. We felt safe as we memorized spelling words and chased each other on the playground.



We all wondered what trespasses were and now, the translations use the words debt and debtors. As a first grader, my husband prayed, “Forgive us our trash baskets,” while wondering why we needed to be forgiven for using trash baskets. As we said these words, without understanding the meaning, God forgave us for our childhood pranks and antics and we found ourselves tolerant of the mistakes of those around us. I had bucked teeth and had to wear corrective shoes so children were occasionally mean to me. That early Morning Prayer gave hope and peace as I learned to forgive.



Regardless of our financial status, we all received our daily bread while at school. Christ’s kingdom ruled in our classrooms as our teachers lovingly taught orderly lessons. I remember few disruptions and no violence while sitting in those tiny desks. Mean teachers were so rare that I can still recall the one or two that walked menacingly through the halls.



We consider the Lord’s Prayer to be a Christian prayer, but as a young child, I didn’t. I’m Baptist and we don’t say that prayer in weekly services so I only had it memorized because of public school. In my innocence, I assumed it was for everyone and trusted God to answer it for everyone. Since no one mentioned the word Jesus or Christianity, Christ anonymously helped us all as we found unity in the words “Our Father.” No one complained about the words of that prayer as all children reverently repeated it together.



As a parent of children who grew up in schools not protected by that early Morning Prayer, I missed it. My children learned to take for granted the drug deals they witnessed and the hidden guns in the classroom. When my son was instrumental in saving the life of a student and heard the blast of a pistol going off 2 feet from him, I was proud of his heroic efforts but baffled that these were the same rooms that educated me. When my 8th grade daughter had to kick a fellow student to get him to remove his hands from her body, I was glad she defended herself but wondered why she had to. Where was God in these violent disorderly rooms?



For today, pray the Lord’s Prayer for our schools, life, and country. As we’ve seen from the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous and our nation’s public schools of days long past, God answers prayer, even when people don’t understand what their words mean or to whom they are praying.

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