Friday, July 29, 2016

Bishop’s Note: July 28, 2016 – The Lord's Prayer

Bishop Eric Menees

This last Sunday the gospel lesson was taken from the eleventh chapter of Luke, which begins with the shortened version of the Lord’s Prayer – or perhaps what should be called the “Disciple’s Prayer” – Jesus said; “When you pray, say…”

“Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” (Luke 11:2-4 ESV) It is impossible for us to understand how outrageous this prayer would have sounded to first-century Jewish ears. To refer to Yahweh as Father – Abba – Papi would have presumed a familiarity that would have been offensive. But that is exactly what Jesus was saying – that we, the disciples of Jesus, are the adopted children of God (John 1:12). Let’s examine this prayer:

ABBA. Father. You can guarantee that John the Baptist never prayed to God saying “ABBA.” Too few of us accept our place as God’s adopted children, choosing to keep our relationships formal and distant. But clearly Jesus is inviting us into a relationship that is both profoundly intimate and transcendent at the same time.

“…hallowed be your name.” We must honor and give reverence to God’s name! We must take this relationship seriously. However we must also remember that ours is not an unknowable Heavenly Father. But one whose name is holy as is His character – His attributes – His perfection. Jesus refers to this when he says in his prayer, “[28] Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” (John 12:28 ESV) It is not we who glorify or make holy God’s name – God does it!

Your kingdom come! What does this mean - your kingdom come?
On the one hand - we’re asking for God’s rule and reign to continually advance in our hearts and lives here and now. On the other hand – we’re asking for God’s sovereign to break into a fallen world – not just the individual lives of believers but the lives of all people. Of course, God began to answer that prayer with Jesus’ incarnation – His birth – and he will complete that prayer with Jesus’ second coming! Ultimately this is where the trust starts coming in. If we are going to allow God to be our King we need to trust the king!

Give us each day our daily bread… God’s perfect provision isn’t simply for our stomachs, but for all the believers needs. Remembering that our needs and our desires are not the same.

We’ve discovered over and over again as people are preparing to step out of their properties at just the right moment God opens up the right place.
And you know what? God’s provision is always perfect and sufficient.
I think of when I first stepped out of the Episcopal Church in San Diego. The Bishop of San Diego gave an interview to the newspaper.

The following week an anonymous check arrived for $10,000 from someone in Maryland who read the article online and wanted to support us. A new person showed up the first Sunday – again based on the newspaper article – he was a retired sheriff’s deputy and a wonderful wood worker. After the service he said, “Hey if your interested I can build you an altar, lectern, credence table, tabernacle and processional cross!"  And he did! Could I have every guessed that things like that would happen? NO but when we Trust in the Lord he comes though.

And forgive us our sins… This prayer is not the initial forgiveness of sin that we receive in Salvation when we invite Christ into our lives and accept his love and forgiveness. This prayer recognizes our need for regular confession of the ways we’ve missed the mark and put ourselves before the Lord. Regularly asking for forgiveness is a very helpful reminder of our sinfulness and need for forgiveness. When we are aware of our sinfulness we stop making excuses for our selves and rely upon God’s Grace and love.

This prayer is offered with a promise from scripture that God is good and forgiving…“if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 ESV)

for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us… Oh that these words will come to fruition! That we, like Jesus, may have the grace and love to forgive those who have offended us. Oh that we may be released from the bondage of our lack of forgiveness – resentment that can cloud and cover all aspects of our lives.

And lead us not into temptation. This statement should not be interpreted as thinking – that God would lead us into temptation – in fact, scripture teaches the opposite… “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:13-15 ESV) We entreat God, who orders all things in heaven and on earth to guide us in such as way that our best selves come to the fore rather than our worst!

Ultimately what this prayer is asking is that God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, will so transform our hearts that our desire will be what God desires.

I pray you all a very blessed week.

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