From the Pastor
Back when I was in my church’s high school youth group, one of the things we guys learned is that one way to score big points with the girls was to be very eloquent in conversational prayer. I remember sitting one time in a circle as we were getting ready to pray as a youth group. And I strategically placed myself near a young lady, -- who was the hot ticket of the Senior High. And when it was my turn to pray, I launched into a tour de forceof blazing spiritual piety. During my prayer, I displayed a keen grasp of the Old and New Testament, the writings of C.S. Lewis, my deep sensitivity for people, a sports analogy (big surprise), with a sprinkling in of current events just for good measure. Finally, I brought this thing in for a 3-point landing. In my best baritone, stained-glassed, but still adolescent voice, I finished with an, “Amen.” And I knew I had done very well. Of course, I had to see how much I had impressed her, and so I opened one eye to look over, -- and she was gone! She had left! I am not sure, but I think God did too, by the way.
The purpose of prayer is not to impress other people. It is simply talking to God about the things on your heart, -- honestly, openly, and as sincerely as a small child. The Lord’s Prayer can be that for you and me. The Lord’s Prayer is our “spiritual breathing.” We get all wrapped up in our own busy lives, and the first thing we do is dash off in one direction without getting grounded first. “O God, I am very nervous about my doctor’s appointment later today.” Or, “O God, I’m going to flunk that big test tomorrow!” “Lord, The Visa Bill is due!” “Lord, with all these cutbacks at work, I’m think I am going to lose my job!” And we rush to God with our needs. The opening of the Lord's Prayer is a kind of spiritual breathing exercise that forces us to get settled down with God, -- before we get caught up in our needs. “Our Father, who art in heaven.” Okay, now I’ve got my spiritual bearings. “Hallowed by Thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” I’ve said all these things, and now I can have my panic attack. “Give me my daily bread. Forgive my sins. Steer me away from the things that are so tempting.”
This Sunday, I am beginning a sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer, and I want to ask you to make a commitment. Each day, I would like for you to recite and meditate on the Lord’s Prayer. Fill your mind with these wonderful words that Jesus gave us so that you might be drawn closer to him. Make the Lord’s Prayer your own personal mantra. For some of you, it may be to pray it first thing in the morning as you wake up for work or school. For some of you, it may be the last thing to help you fall asleep at night. For others of you, it may be a mid-afternoon prayer that will ground you and settle you down for the rest of the workday. All you have to do is begin with the first phrase, “Our Father.”
As I said, think of it as “spiritual breathing.” We can only breathe out what we have already breathed in. We breathe in the wonderful, matchless, free-flowing love of God, and then we blow that same kind of love and grace back out to God and to other people. That’s breathing the Lord’s Prayer. That’s living the Lord’s Prayer. May the Lord fill your lungs with his power and presence as we spend time in the Lord’s Prayer over the next several weeks.
Quote of the Week
"I used to think the Lord’s Prayer was a short prayer; but as I live longer, and see more of life, I begin to believe there is no such thing as getting through it. If a man, in praying that prayer, were to be stopped by every word until he had thoroughly prayed it, it would take him a lifetime"
Henry Ward Beecher
Henry Ward Beecher was an American Congregationalist clergyman, social reformer, and speaker, known for his support of the abolition of slavery and his emphasis on God's love.
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