A Message from Fr. Brad – July 6

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:  

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
 Your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
 Give us this day our daily bread,
 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. 
Matthew 6:7-13
     So there they are, a huge group of men, women, and children gathered together to hear this teacher, who somehow knows the law like an old friend and has an authority in His discussions about it that they have never heard before.  Seeing this crowd Jesus, like Moses, goes up a mountain to give the people the wisdom of God.  From the first words of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) Jesus takes the human view of reality and twists it like an piece of art from M.C. Escher.  Throughout these three chapters Jesus opens the veil of Heaven bit by bit, and though there is endless amounts to talk about, I would love to focus over the next few weeks on  Matthew 6: 7-13, as Jesus exposes our tendency to approach God, at best as an idol who is deaf or at worst a holy vending machine.
At the very beginning Jesus warns us about how we shouldn’t approach prayer, and in this shows us that we are not engaged in the same activity that other religions think of as prayer.  We are not praying to an idol that is a lifeless, heartless, piece of wood or stone, but to a living and active God.  So, when we come to His presence we are not using magic words, or crafty repetition, but instead we come to Him trusting that He wants us to be in actual communication with Him.
     With this warning in place Jesus begins to teach how we should pray, and it actually begins with adoration, and not requests.  In the Lord’s Prayer, the first thing out of the gate is both the majesty of who it is we are addressing “in heaven,” but also the closeness that we have with Him “Our Father.”  Just take a moment and think about that.  The reason we don’t need to use countless words, is because we are not addressing a far away deity, but our FATHER!  Because of this the next few lines make sense.  If we get our minds even a fraction of the way around the idea that we are in a very personal conversation with our Dad who happens to also be the most Awesome, Mighty, and Infinite GOD of all creation, then we have the trust to ask Him to be glorified above all else.  More than our need to be taken care of, more than our need for forgiveness, even more than our need for a righteous life, are prayers, if we are focused on the right thing, is that God will be worshiped and adored.  What is amazing is that because He is our Father, His favorite way of having His name hallowed is to lavish His children with blessings.
     So, over the next few weeks as we go over the Lord’s Prayer, I challenge all of us to take time each day to pray and meditate on this prayer.  My hope is that in the end we will see our hearts and minds more inline with God’s will and closer to His heart.
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