Watching the Audience
Father, no matter how long I have been a Christian, I still need You to teach me to pray. What an opportunity I have today!
Consider: Ponder these words of William Barclay (1907-1978) as he insightfully describes The Lord's Prayer: "It brings the whole of life to the whole of God."
Jesus is dealing with our motives. We may think that the examples he chooses belong to another day and age, but trumpets during the offering and prayers on street corners were no more a part of his world than they are of ours. He is using a figure of speech to make the point vivid. So before we skate over this section of his Word to us, thinking "at least I don't do that," let's pause and reflect. Real giving, real prayer, are for God's eyes and ears only. We might try to be altruistic, but even then we are thinking of ourselves. The only reward on our mind should be the joy of pleasing him and sharing in his work. Luke tells a little story about a Pharisee and a tax collector (Luke 18:9-14) to make a similar point. And if we think that Jesus' emphasis on rewards (2,4,5 and 6) is crass, let's pray for better self-knowledge.
How utterly familiar are the words of the Lord's Prayer! I find that when we repeat this together in church it goes by me too fast, and I find myself hung up at some point or another while I mouth the rest of the words mindlessly. Now is the opportunity to think it through, phrase by phrase, at our own pace. (No doubt when Jesus taught this prayer to the twelve disciples he took the time for them to do just that.) The application is endless.
It's interesting, isn't it, that the one part of the prayer that he elaborates on is the plea for forgiveness. How well he knows the inside of the human heart! We all need to forgive one another, all the time, for the ways in which we hurt one another as we jostle through life.
Try taking the prayer that Jesus taught us and fleshing it out, phrase by phrase, with details from your own particular situation.
Lord Jesus, I find it much easier to think about prayer than to actually pray. I ask for a new hunger and desire to pray.
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