“The Lord’s Prayer” from Matthew is so familiar that we usually use those verses as a prayer, rather than as a model for prayer.
The disciples had asked Jesus to teach them to pray, and he gave them those phrases as a learning tool. It occurs to me that if we really learn the principles of those few lines, we’d pray “Thy will ____________________ (insert specific request here) be done on earth…” and we’d actually insert specific requests.
We’d know what Father God wanted to do on earth because we had sought his will first, conversed with him, listened to his voice, and then prayed that, allowing him to go to work to fulfill his will.
Suppose God wants to end the floods in the midwest or the forest fires in California? We’d insert “end the floods in the midwest” or “end the forest fires in California” as a specific request. Amid the praise and the requests for personal provision, we’d pray for him to carry out his desires in specific situations by praying his specific will.
Dead people don’t praise God, the Bible says. Saving bodies is sometimes necessary before saving souls can be done. So if floods and fires threaten the lives of people, let’s don’t assume God wants to drown or burn everyone in their paths. Insurance companies call those events “acts of God,” but mercy is truly an act of God! Jesus fed the 5,000 as well as preached to them, after all. He knew growling stomachs interfere with listening ears.
I’d like to recite the Lord’s Prayer in a new way, pausing to fill in the blank: “Thy will ________________________ be done on earth…” That will take more time and work, of course. But the results of the seeking, the finding and the praying of God’s will no doubt will be worth it.
Two articles in last week’s newspaper started me to thinking back some years. One article asks, “Is sex outside of marriage still a sin?” It outlines the gradual changes in society and cultural thinking over the years. Polls and surveys and opinion pieces seem to be the basis of many people’s beliefs these days, not the scriptures. Bedrock? Foundation? Sand. Well, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, the saying goes – and sin by any other name still smells of death.
The other article is headlined “Church adds drive-in to draw visitors.” The pastor stands in the doorway of the church and preaches by microphone to the parking lot, where folks just tune in their car radio to listen. Communion will be offered car to car some Sundays.
Okay, what’s wrong with that? Well, why bother to put gas in the car and drive from the comforts of home down to the church? Why not just save that expense?
I think someone’s forgotten the meaning of the root word for church, which is fellowship. It’s pretty hard to fellowship from the inside of an automobile, unless you’re planning to cram 6 or 8 bodies into one.
Laziness has gone to seed these days, where people don’t want to communicate face to face, offer a hand or a hug, a listening ear, prayer and singing and clapping and smiling, or crying. Don’t want to get dressed in something relatively clean or neat, don’t want to shave or shampoo, don’t want to “give of your best to the Master,” as the old hymn goes. Or it is complacency?
Well, at least they did leave the house and head to the church instead of the beach, or staying inside stretched out on the sofa in front of the football game. Maybe that counts for something.