Finding Our Way with the Lord's Prayer

Getting Lost

Growing up, I loved to visit my grandparents house in Ohio. For a suburban kid from Texas they had two things I’d never seen before: big hills to climb and trees over 40 feet high.

My sister and I would spend hours exploring in the woods, looking for arrowheads, and other cool stuff to collect. Each day was a new adventure and new opportunity to push the boundaries on how far we could go.

One day my sister went out to explore alone and couldn’t find her way back. Looking around to get her bearings all of the trees looked the same. With no landmarks in sight she tried to guess the general direction back home. When those paths proved false, her sense of direction grew worse and worse. Trying to stay calm she knew this was not good.

Jesus Give Us A Compass

If you have ever been lost and alone, it can be a scary feeling. In those situations it’s our instinct to cry out for help. HELP! When we realize we can’t find our way on our own, we need a guide or compass to lead us back on the right track.

As followers of Jesus, his disciples realized their need for help as well. In Luke 11, the disciples are all gathered and watching Jesus pray - most likely from a distance. After he finishes praying the disciples ask Jesus for guidance, “Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples.” In other words, would you show us the way you pray? We need your help.

Jesus is eager to teach them and gives them a model (or compass) to pray. This model has been known around the world for centuries as, the Lord’s Prayer. It should probably be called the disciples prayer but we’re a couple millennia late to rebrand :).

Meditating on this prayer has helped me countless times to not lose sight of the ‘forest from the trees’.

At some of my lowest points when I didn’t know what to do or say, this prayer helped me hang on to God and the Gospel. During some of my highest highs this prayer has helped me to not chase after more stuff or get greedy in building my own ‘kingdom’. Truth is I get lost pretty much daily and can’t go long without a compass.

If you’re in need of a compass today, meditate on these truths from the Lord’s Prayer.

“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

Our Father

Father, hallowed be your name.

Instead of jumping straight away into our requests, Jesus starts with “Father”. He could’ve began with many different titles (Creator God, Almighty God, etc.) but instead Jesus tells them to begin with “Father”.

A Father and son relationship is much different than a servant and King. A son has access to the King that a servant does not. A son bears the name of the King and will receive an inheritance, while a servant does not. While God is the King and we are his servants as well (2 Co. 6:4), this is not the title Jesus chooses to start with.

Don’t let the familiarity of the prayer deceive you. There is no greater gift than having a Father to son or daughter relationship with God. Many religions pray, some more disciplined than Christians, in order to close a gap between themselves and their god. In the message and life of Christ, we see God drawing near, finding us, and closing the gap through paying our ransom on the cross.

Meditate on that mind-blowing truth as long as it takes to sink in. That God the Father so loved you that he gave his one and only son that you would not perish but have everlasting life and be called a son of God (Jn. 3:16, 1 Jn. 3:1). Amazing!

Like an adopted child who receives the name of his new parents we have also received a new name when we receive Christ. When we rejoice in our adoption and find joy in relationship with God, we will ‘hallow’ or want to talk about how great God’s name is.

His Kingdom Come

Your Kingdom come.

I love how God-centered this prayer is. I need my eyes to be pulled up from my own navel and turned towards God all the time. When our perspective is focusing on God and his Kingdom coming it gives us two things: Purpose and Hope.

God may your kingdom come increasingly into my heart today.  God come increasingly into my marriage today and into my other relationships. God may your Kingdom come in our church - in my job, community, and city today. We are called to bring the Kingdom to earth because the King lives in us. When we think about God’s Kingdom coming we are thinking about our purpose in life.

This line also reminds me that one day the Kingdom will come in it’s fullness. It gives me hope in the darkest of circumstances in the redemptive story of God. It reminds me of that famous line in the Lord of the Rings when Sam Gamgee says,“Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue?”. I believe this will be true for us as well when we see Jesus and his Kingdom face to face (Col. 1:20; Ro. 8:18).  

His Bread For Today

Give us this day our daily bread;

For my fellow worry warts, now has come the time to ASK for what you need! Ask boldly and ask liberally! Remember God is a good Father who delights to give his children the best gifts in the best timing (Luke 11:11-13).

Notice the wording here is pointing towards the bread or manna that the people of Israel ate while in the wilderness. If they tried to hoard more than a day's supply of it then it would rot unless it was right before the Sabbath. God wants us to learn that we can trust him daily through our work and rest. Bring your anxieties, needs, and worries to your Father today and trust him with tomorrow (Mt. 6:34).

His Debt Absorption

and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

Forgiveness can be confusing. Forgiveness is not ignoring or overlooking. When I think of someone absorbing a penalty for me instead of me receiving it, that helps me understand what being forgiven is. If I broke your new iPhone 7 and you said don’t worry about it, then you would absorb the cost (if Apple didn’t replace it of course). I should pay for it but the cost was absorbed by you.

When we confess sins we realize that Jesus absorbed the cost on our behalf. Coming to God to confess sins reminds me of His love that cost Him, and how he gives me infinite resources to absorb others debts against me. Though it doesn’t mean consequences aren’t needed to love that person, it does lead me to think about how God has forgiven me before I respond back to the person who harmed me.

His Leadership In Our Lives

And lead us not into temptation.

Everyday we face thousands of choices. We need wisdom and guidance to find our way. The Bible promises that we will face temptation in this life (1 Co. 10:13). However, we don’t need to be led into more opportunities for temptation!

What might be common sense to some might be a real temptation to others. There are also the sneaky temptations can be easy for us to disguise like pride, envy, or lack of faith. When we pray this way we are reminded of our need for own need for community, and how our brothers and sisters need us. God, lead us today not into temptation today.

Who can you pray for today to be led by Jesus away from temptation in this way? Where do you need to ask a brother or sister for help in your journey?

What About My Sister!?!?

We never saw my sister again.

Just kidding! :)

Thankfully when she called out for help someone did come - or I should say, something came. Even though no one could hear her from the house, the neighbors dog Riley did. He came and found her deep in the woods and led her home. All along the way the dog would even check to make sure my sister was following him along the way.

My sister will never forget that dog and what he did for her. Let us not forget how great a friend we have in Jesus, and what he has done for us. We can remember this together through the gift of the Lord’s Prayer.

 

JOE PAOLINO