A warm welcome to another edition of Brooklands Digital Church.
We are thankful to our brother Rev. Mick Kane, Chaplain at Nazarene Theological Manchester, for bringing us the message today.
The Bible readings are taken from Psalm 3 and Matthew 6:5-15.
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I took a walk the other day down by the river Mersey. It’s a walk I have taken many times before but it felt different this time. I noticed details I hadn’t before: birdsong, fragrances, the diversity of colour in the plant life.
I wonder if these unusual times we find ourselves in have given us some new perspectives on things? I wonder if the same could be true for the way we read familiar passages of Scripture.
Let’s take a familiar walk through a well known part of Scripture and see if God can speak something new!
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,”
For me this is single most important statement in the prayer. It reminds us of the God we pray to and it reminds us of what that God is like. He is our Father.
In fact the Aramiac word used here is ‘Abba’ which denotes intimacy. And he’s also hallowed, and in Heaven. He is a perfect Father who is strong and able. It’s important to sit on this truth – only when we understand this can we really pray the rest of the prayer…
“your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Only by fully understanding who God is, as revealed in the previous line, can we make a statement like this. This statement is a dying to ourselves. We understand that because of who God is, and because he looks on us as Father, and because his ways are greater than our ways, we find ourselves willing to pray for his will, not ours, at work in our lives.
“Give us today our daily bread.”
When we’ve understood who God is, and when we understand that because of who he is, the best thing we can do is seek his will for our lives and follow it, we are now in the best place we can be to ask. Lord give us the things we need.
The word that always jumps out to me here is the word, ‘daily.’ Why not weekly, or monthly? God, as our father wants to meet with us every day. This prayer is not transactional, it’s relational.
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
A daily connection with God also allows us to keep close accounts with him. We are going to make mistakes; we are going to get it wrong but with God his mercies are new every morning.
But this isn’t just about forgiveness for ourselves. This reminds us that true forgiveness, the forgiveness that comes from Christ, doesn’t only come to us but it also must flow out from us.
Receiving forgiveness and giving forgiveness are two sides of the same coin. And if we are seeking forgiveness whilst holding on to past hurts and resentments at the hands of others then something is out of place (see verses 14 and 15).
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
Of course after we have received that forgiveness we want to remain in that place, don’t we? And so ask God to keep us there. An image that springs to mind here is the numerous times My four year old son has taken a bath and minutes after we’ve managed to get him all nice and clean he finds a way to undo it by spilling food down himself or playing in the dirt!
Proverbs 26:11 isn’t as cute when it describes this problem: “as a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool returns to folly.” As disgusting as this image is, this is what we are praying against here.
And the prayer ends there, at least in the Scriptures. But If you look closely at your Bible there might be a little footnote that says something like, “some manuscripts include, yours is the kingdom the power and the glory forever, amen.”
Tradition tells us that the early church realised the significance of this prayer and adopted it with almost creed like importance but they didn’t like the way it ended with mention to the evil one, so they added a closing line that gives the Glory back to God
The closest parallel in the scriptures that we can find to it is a prayer prayed by King David in 1 Chronicles 29 from verse 10. It’s not an exact match but its very similar. It’s a prayer David prays at the very end of his life before stepping down from his throne and handing over to his son, Solomon.
In many ways, when we pray this familiar prayer that image captures exactly what we are praying for. That we might step off the thrones of our own lives and it over to The Son of the living God.
Perhaps now would be a good time for us to say the prayer in its entirety together…