Our Father

There are two passages in scripture that are more well known than all others. The 23 Psalm and the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6, so named because Jesus our Lord gave it to us, more specifically Jesus gave it to His early disciples, and by extension us. We have it in Luke 11 and Matthew 6 with minor variations. The Matthew one is the commonly taught one but I have included the version Luke shared because there we see Jesus originally gave it in response to a request. We have more than one version because Jesus traveled around the country teaching and taught regularly on the same subjects but wasn’t reading them word for word off of a tablet – tablets where heavy in those days!

1 Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” 2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.” Luke 11:1–4 (NKJV)

9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. Matthew 6:9–13 (NKJV)

A couple of important elements. When one of the disciples requested a prayer Jesus provided a model one that covered key areas, which was the practice of rabbis in that time period, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” I am going to focus on the version Matthew provided from the Sermon on the Mount as it is the longer and more commonly used version.

The prayer in Matthew begins and ends with the Father, starting with His location and ending with His kingdom. A bit more detail may help as we engage our hearts.

Our Father: Jesus instructs us to begin with an acknowledgement to/of our Fathers. A recognition that we are part of a larger family with the Father as the head.

In heaven: A recognition for us of where He resides. The spiritual eternal realm. Our prayers are rising before the throne, the throne of grace we later learn (Hebrews 4:16).

Your kingdom, Your will be done: These are not pleas or requests. The tense in Greek tells us that they are decrees/declarations. We are agreeing with His agenda and expressing our desire to see that His kingdom and will are established. There is submission to His will in this declaration.  

On earth as it is in heaven: A decree and declaration stating that earth is ultimately to come into alignment with heaven.  

Our daily bread: Expressing our dependence on the Father for our sustenance.

Forgive us: Requesting forgiveness in the context of our commitment to walk in forgiveness toward others. This is also a recognition that we all need it at some point (1 John 1:8-9).

Request for protection: We are praying for protection from ourselves and the evil one. He will lead us in right paths. We need to follow.

Yours is the kingdom and power: The Father is king in this eternal kingdom, the glorious one who sits on the throne. He is the one to whom our prayers ascend and the one we are agreeing with as we pray and declare.  

In a brief summary here is the pattern.

  • Acknowledgement and recognition,
  • Declaration,
  • Recognition of dependence for sustenance,
  • Request for forgiveness and a commitment to walk in forgiveness,
  • Request for protection, and
  • Worship.

Now go pray.

Our Inner Life

In my last post I referenced one of my daily goals, walking in “presence centred repose.” Another goal I have is “living from an internal frame of reference.” While they are similar, the second goal takes the first a bit further. With presence centred repose I want to learn to always be conscious of His presence. In living from an internal frame or reference I want my decisions to be guided by His voice within my spirit. These goals are aspirational, not achievements. At the same time a Wayne Gretzky quote that has become famous in sports circles is, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” While it is often attributed to Michael Jordan, Gretzky said it in a 1983 interview before Jordan ever played in the NBA. Now back to the application.

What this means for me is that I fail at 100% of the goals I don’t seek to achieve. While my goal in living from an internal frame of reference is not perfection, it is to grow in my sensitivity to His presence, paying attention to His leading throughout each day. I approach this not as some elite spiritual practice, but as what I see Him calling us to in scripture.

9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 1 Corinthians 2:9–12 (NKJV)

Over the years I have heard and read more than one teaching that stops at verse 9, implying we can’t know what God has prepared for us. Yet if we continue in the passage Paul is asserting the exact opposite. Paul says that we can know and the way that we can know is by the Spirit. For context, when Paul wrote this most of the New Testament had not yet been written. Paul wasn’t suggesting someone pull out their copy of the scriptures, as they didn’t have one. The Old Testament was complete but not something one could download or pick up a copy of at your local bookstore. They were rare and treasured. Paul was saying that the believers he wrote to needed to remember what he had taught them but also needed to, and could, receive knowledge of God from God, more specifically from the Holy Spirit.

Now to the implications for us. I have a decades old practice of being in the scriptures and spending time in prayer each morning to set the course of my day. That works for me. I know it doesn’t work for everyone. Some have shared that their prayer time takes place while driving to work, eyes open I assume! Some take time in the evening. Others don’t have an established prayer or reading time, it is random`. Whatever you do, the important thing is that if you have been born again you have the capacity to develop an inner life with your heart tuned to the Spirit. In fact, if you have been born again, I am confident that He has initiated just such a life. He has at times convicted you of the need to apologize or address an issue. He has prompted you to speak with and encourage someone. He has prompted you to be a listening ear. He may have also given you prophetic dreams or visions.

These are all aspects of 1 Corinthians 2 in practice. He initiates the process and we choose whether or not to go deeper. He wants each of us to do that but we get to decide the degree of sensitivity we cultivate. I pray we all choose to cultivate a deeper relationship with the Spirit and choose to live ‘from an internal frame of reference.’

His Path

In our walk with Jesus, we are all called to a continual pursuit of His presence and purpose. In Philippians Paul said he had learned to be content in whatever state he was in (Philippians 4:11). At the same time, we know from the context that Paul was referring to his physical circumstances. Whatever conditions he found himself in his heart was at rest in Jesus. Yet, in terms of his spiritual life, he displayed a holy discontent, a desire to draw nearer.

12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12–14 (NKJV)

As believers we are called to the same type of passion as Paul, a desire to draw nearer and go deeper in our relationship with Jesus. While knowing is not doing, it is the starting point. I know what he has called each of to walk with Him in terms of intimacy, I also know the how of His daily calling may be different for each of us. With our calling to salvation Yahweh has a daily path for each of us that we need to discern (Ephesians 2:8-10). There are things He has not only called each of us to walk in, He has prepared them for us ahead of time.

10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)

I know in my life what He has called me to, and I have over the years discerned more of the details but I still need to engage in the ‘how.’ I pray and am in the scriptures daily but I know that I also need a measure of specific focus. The way I discern this by praying scriptures related to it. In recent years there are two verses of scripture that I have focused on praying each morning to help me walk in His path each day. The scriptures I have used below are from the NKJV (I have changed the names of God to what they are in Hebrew).

4 Show me Your ways, O Yahweh; Teach me Your paths. 5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the Elohim of my salvation; On You I wait all the day. Psalm 25:4–5

Recently while at a small worship event He prompted me to bring another scripture back to my daily prayer regarding my walk.  

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Yahweh, my strength and my, Redeemer. Psalm 19:14 

It is one thing to pray for the right path, another to pray for a right heart in everything. In general, I am fine with the ‘words of my mouth,’ even the ones I type. Yet I am quite aware that in the ‘meditation of my heart’ I am not always thinking what or how Jesus thinks. When I pray this prayer, I am more aware during the day of when the ‘meditation of my heart’ is not right, which gives me an opportunity to surrender it to Jesus and ask for His thoughts. In my prayer list I have described my daily goal in life as living in “presence centred repose.” Walking in an awareness of the ‘meditation of my heart’ is a step on that path.

Perhaps my approach will work for you, or you will find something else that will. Whatever works I pray each of you are afflicted with a holy discontent and ‘find your path’ in your walk with Jesus.

A Dwelling Place

We have stepped into a new year. Yet I believe we need an old focus as we move through it. The writer of Psalm 132 expresses the passion David carried for a dwelling place for Yahweh.

A Song of Ascents. 1 Remember, O Yahweh, on David’s behalf, All his affliction; 2 How he swore to Yahweh And vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob, 3 “Surely I will not come into my house, Nor lie in the comfort of my bed; 4 I will not give sleep to my eyes Or slumber to my eyelids, 5 Until I find a place for Yahweh, A dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.” 6 Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah, We found it in the fields of Jaar. 7 Let us come into His dwelling place; Let us worship at the footstool of His feet. 8 Arise, O Yahweh, to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your strength. 9 Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness, And let Your holy ones sing for joy. Psalm 132:1-9 LSB

Just as a house needs a foundation for the rest to be built upon, and to stay in place a ship needs an anchor, so too, we need to look at what we anchor and build our worship on. Not only our faith, but a major aspect of it, our worship. Here the Psalmist sought to anchor the future in the heart that David carried and his passion to see a dwelling place established for Yahweh.

One thing this Psalm tells us is that we need to seek His face and heart. This is always true yet as His body we seem to engage in it only intermittently. Here David’s passion was to see a place for Yahweh to dwell and interact with His people, a place of encounter where heaven met earth.

In our time we don’t need to build a dwelling place, we need to understand how to individually and corporately be a dwelling place! After all we know from the New Testament that we are in fact His dwelling place on earth in this season of time.

16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. 1 Corinthians 3:16–17 (NKJV)

19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Corinthians 6:19–20 (NKJV)

In these two passages Paul gives both a warning and an exhortation. The context in chapter 3 is the Corinthians demonstrating immaturity by exhibiting selfishness and division in their gatherings. The context is chapter 6 is their defiling Yahweh’s temple through sexual immorality. It is clear from both of these passages that as a group of believers the Corinthians were in danger and seemed not to have recognized that, hence Paul’s warnings.

I believe and pray that we will have a greater awareness of the importance of being His dwelling place on earth and that it will affect how we live our lives before Jesus and before others. It should be very obvious that we cannot walk in sexual immorality and the Father’s favour at the same time, they are mutually exclusive. Most of the church seems to easily get this reality. Yet if we allow division and competition we are in just as much danger. In fact, Paul’s warning is stronger in 3:17 where he warns, “If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him.” Here Paul is addressing envy, strife and division (3:3).   

            This tells us that we need to walk in love and unity to know the benefit of being His dwelling place. This is a key aspect of our worship. It does no good to stand beside a fellow believer on Sunday morning and sing if at other times I am engaged in strife with them. My singing will not bring His favour, my honouring my fellow believer will. Let’s have David’s passion for Yahweh’s dwelling place and see it demonstrated by walking in love and unity. Then we will see His manifest presence resting on us and expressed through us as His dwelling place on earth! We might call that what many of us regularly pray for, revival.