Luke 11: 1 – 4
“Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
2 Jesus said, “This is how you should pray:
“Father, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
3 Give us each day the food we need,
4 and forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation.”
We begin prayer with adoration and praise. Then we move on to personal needs. If you’re honest, I suspect you often start your prayers with what you need. I know I tend to do that. Things crop up in my day, and I send a prayer for God’s help. There’s nothing wrong with that, but we also need to find time for calmer, purposeful prayer.
Putting time aside for prayer is something I’ve struggled with my whole life. As a young person, life was busy with school and part-time jobs. As a beginning teacher, life was crammed with preparing lessons, teaching, marking, and supervising extra-curricular activities at the school. As a young mom … well, you can guess, life starts the moment your little ones wake up and ends in crashing into bed. In our culture in the 21st century, life is just busy – period. So, we need to find that time when we can talk to God with both praise and requests.
“Give us each day the food we need” We can ask God for all the essentials we need to survive. In North America, just what is that? When I think of my lifestyle in comparison to those in Third World Countries, I cringe. Most of us can thank God every day for all he has provided for us. As a result of this pandemic, some of us may need to ask God for the support we need because of lost jobs or reduced income. One thing we can know is that God does care about our daily basic needs. We can pray about what we need and trust him for that.
“Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” I used to wonder about how being forgiven and forgiving others was tied together. If someone had hurt me badly, would God not forgive me if I was struggling to get over the hurt and anger against that person? Charles R. Swindoll talks about this in an effective way:
“The one whose pride and selfishness prevents him or her from extending forgiveness to others cannot possibly understand the meaning of grace. And how can one receive what one cannot comprehend? In truth, we all have this in common: We all have someone we can blame for something, and we all deserve blame for harming and/or hurting someone else. And, in the same way that someone is indebted to us for wrongdoing, we are indebted to God all the more! He also commands forgiveness because it is basic to maintaining the soul. Enemies and their evil deeds can become the focus of life unless we voluntarily remove them through forgiveness.” (Living Insights: Luke – page 317)
“And don’t let us yield to temptation” I am so thankful that I can ask God for the strength needed to follow him. If I had to depend on my own ability to be satisfied with just the basics of life, and to be a forgiving, loving person all the time – I’d totally fail. As I read my Bible and begin to grasp how amazing God is, and what he wants me to be like … I’m desperate for his help. Even the Apostle Paul experienced this:
“I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7: 21 – 25)
So yes, my prayers need to include asking God for the strength to turn away from my self-centered life and attitude. In closing, perhaps you might enjoy Solomon’s prayer that reflects what the Lord’s Prayer says”
7 O God, I beg two favors from you;
let me have them before I die.
8 First, help me never to tell a lie.
Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!
Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.
9 For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?”
And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.
Our song for today is The Lord’s Prayer by Hillsong.