Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. For Thine is the kingdom and the glory and the power forever and ever.
Yes, our Father who art in heaven. The familiar words come easily enough on Sabbath mornings. They roll off our tongues with tenacious ease and, perhaps, a touch of apathy. Many of us find these words, which were rich in our spiritual infancy, to fall stale with routine on our tongues. While others of us crave their familiarity, savoring the richness of their repetition.
Wherever we find ourselves Lord, would You teach us again how to pray?
We hallow Your name … as well as we know how and as far as our pride will allow. Even while we ask for Your kingdom to come, we confess that we are a people preoccupied with many kingdoms – kingdoms built with borders and weapons and fear and an over-use of the word “mine”. We fixate ourselves on these kingdoms because You claim to build Your kingdom with us. And that is a frightening reality.
Indeed, hallowed Father, we ask for Your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. But more honestly, perhaps, we mean to permit You to do Your will so long as it is comfortable, uncomplicated, and resembles closely our own. Like your people in their wilderness wonderings, we cannot conceive that you would insist we press on, while the view of Egypt over our shoulder looks so much safer, so much greener, so much more familiar. But their witness from the other side of the dessert journey tells us that hidden in Your will are Your persisting promises of a better land. They say that You are a God who wills to free, to reach, to inhabit, to heal. Your will is so unlike our own. So reorient us to Your will. Free us from the bindings of religion, from stiff rituals we have stripped of significance. Reach into our families, those we hold are beyond Your arm’s length and those we hold at ours. Inhabit the occupied territories of our hearts, those alters to other gods mostly made of wood and stone and a few of flesh. And heal every wounded place we name, and especially those we cannot. Let Your holy heavenly will be done, here on this temporary turf.
Give us this day, our Daily Bread, O Lord, our Sustenance. We confess we are not among your people who have gone without bread this day. The concept is mostly foreign to us, as are those to whom it is not. And so when You said You are the bread of life, and we did not believe You. We are a content people. We are content to ask of You our daily bread without a crumb of reliance on Your giving. So, we ask for Your provision to crash against our contentment, to provoke the hungry spaces of our lives where we have traded You for turkey and Your presence for another helping of mashed potatoes. We ask for an awareness at the end of each meal that we remain hungry. Hungry for your touch, hungry for your presence, hungry for You. Because we have filled stomachs, Lord, and are empty still. So, create in us a craving, stir in us a starvation for You. Save us from our spiritually anemic selves. Yes, Lord, give us this day our Daily Bread – give us Yourself.
And forgive us of our trespasses, O Lord, our Savior. We confess that we do not fully know the weight of our request because we do not know the weight of sin within our beings. We confess that when we ask You to forgive us we mostly think you should, or that we only ask a small favor. Our theology knows better, but we are obstinate with self-righteousness. We think little of our sin and therefore little of your grace. We think little of your grace and therefore little of your cross. We think little of your cross and therefore little of You. We insist on bitterness towards our bothers, we hold our idols close to our chests, we convince ourselves of our own falsehoods, we do not care for Your conviction, we refuse to pardon and we notice not the ironic way we ask it of You. And for these we indeed require forgiveness.
Oh Lord. Only seconds of silent confession is all that we can bear of seeing our own sin. But out of that silence You speak Life and Hope and Freedom and we sense the great release of Your amen in our lives. And we are grateful.
Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from the evil one. We ask You to lead us, and hidden in our request is a request that You would cause us to follow You out of temptation because we find that we do a fine job of leading ourselves in. More often than not, temptations hour seems to be every hour, and though we know that in Your grace there is no temptation beyond our bearing, that knowledge does not prevent us from bending ourselves beneath it. And so we need You. In our temptation be in your delivering Self. Deliver us from the evil one, O Lord, our Protector. Save us from the one who prowls for us like a devouring lion, and from our minds that simplify him to a safe circus attraction.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Yes, Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth just as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. For Thine is the kingdom and the glory and the power forever and ever.