We continue this week with Jesus enroute to Jerusalem. We are introduced to Mary and Martha, the thinker at Jesus’ feet and the doer in the kitchen hostessing. Yup, still today we have different strokes for different folks. The next lesson, though, we all agree on. “Lord, teach us to pray!” Whether we think great thoughts or do great deeds or are just ordinary like most of us, like the disciples, we realize that when approaching the God of the universe, we need help. Prayer was obviously a secret source of power for Jesus and it works in our lives in multiple ways too. For times of deep grief, prayer comforts. For times of confusion, prayer helps us sort ourselves out and center and clarify our thoughts. For many of us now we spend time bringing the warring factions of our world before God, praying for mercy and the end of violence. Sometimes prayer will move that mountain in front of us into the sea and other times it helps us persevere in climbing it. Luke gives the shorter version of the prayer:
Hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,
Forgive us our sins,
For we forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
“Father” might be hard for some because of abusive human relationships but the truth is that God is approachable and we can relate regardless of the title we feel comfortable. Sometimes it is Lord, sometimes Father, sometimes God, El Shadi or our own prayer name. We are invited into relationship!
We want the wars, the refugees, the famines, and the politics to end and we want a kingdom run by the golden rule, a just world. “Daily” reminds me to focus on now and not the imaginary woes of a future the evil one loves to tease me with but which has not materialized. Help me be content! Forgiveness is key also. Often I need help because I cannot forgive in my own power. I keep remembering the insult, the injury and the wrong keeps burning in my heart. I do not want to be a bitter old person, hating the world and my life and chasing everyone away. Temptation is so real and I need help to stay focused on God’s way.
Each phrase can be a theme for prayer for a day of the week. Sometimes we say the prayer routinely and don’t think but then there are the times when the words burn into our heart as we struggle with the dynamics of our lives. Likewise as we say the words in church with the congregation, we are reminded that we are part of a body, the body of Christ that he walked to Jerusalem to save.
Perhaps we can pray this prayer today thinking of those caught in the dynamics of war, fleeing violence, opposing violence, and seeking refuge. Lord, help!