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Friday, September 27, 2019
Today’s Scripture Reading | Matthew 6:7–15
“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“Pray then in this way: 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 do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (NRSV)
These words are so very familiar to us. We recite them every week in services at Fourth Church, as do Christians all over the world. When we are not sure how we should pray, or we want to pray together as a group, here is a simple prayer that Jesus himself suggested to his disciples that they should use.
The verses that immediately precede and follow the prayer are ones with which we may be less familiar, yet they contain some pretty vital lessons for us, perhaps things for us to consider as we recite the Lord’s Prayer.
First, Jesus advises his disciples that, “your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” If God knows our needs, why do we need to pray? I expect it is to make us aware of our own needs, including our need for God in our lives. Jesus is assuring us that God knows our needs. We, on the other hand, may need a bit of self-reflection to acknowledge our reliance on God. When we ask God to supply our needs, we are recognizing our reliance on God.
The second lesson is about the importance of forgiveness. Jesus says, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” In other words, the recognition of God’s grace to us, and our gratitude for that grace, compels us to be forgiving toward others. Our awareness of God’s gift of forgiveness puts us in a state of being forgiving.
Lord, thank you for giving us this prayer. Help us to be mindful of our need for you, and of the debt of forgiveness we owe others since you have been so forgiving of us. Amen.
Written by Juli Crabtree, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church
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