Sunday 24th July

Readings      Psalm 138                    Luke 11 : 1-13

If we are to have to have a meaningful relationship with God then prayer is an essential part.  Yet it is seen by many as the hardest thing to do.  There are a number of challenging questions – What do I say?  Where do I pray? How do I pray? Why do I fall asleep when I pray . . . ?  As ever, there are many different ways and answers to these questions!

Those disciples of Jewish descent, and scholars seem to agree that they all probably were, would have been familiar with the ceremonies of the synagogue and temple which included formalised prayers. There would also have been the rituals surrounding family life also containing prayers and praying.  We should remember that the Passover Meal, one of the key religious festivals of the Jewish faith was usually celebrated in the family home.

Despite this familiarity with the idea of prayer, the disciples obviously saw in Jesus as with John the Baptist that they had taken prayer to another level.  Jesus was undoubtedly an ‘influencer’, not only by what he said but what he did.  What would have happened had YouTube been around then?

There is so much to these words but I want to break it down into four basic themes.

Praise for and recognition of the centrality of God,

  • Father, may your name be revered as holy. May your kingdom come.

Some texts do not have the word ‘Our’.  Perhaps is was assumed that ‘God’ was ‘Our’ God and that there was a corporate nature to faith, belief and prayer.  It is not just about the individual.

Expressing our basic needs

  • Give us each day our daily bread.

Straight in with the basic human concern after acknowledgement of the Divine.  In a society when a large proportion of the population did not know where the next meal was coming from and lived a day to day existence Jesus understood many peoples primary concern.

Expressing the desire to make oneself ‘right’ with God and other people

  • And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.

If we hold a grudge who does that affect the most – us or them?  Are we worried that we haven’t been forgiven?  That always leads to a lingering doubt.

Hope for the future

  • And do not bring us to the time of trial.

Another very human wish.  Life is hard enough as it is!

The Lord’s prayer as recited by the majority of Christians has been expanded with the addition of other words but in my view still contains the four themes above.

“Don’t be afraid of the silence, it gives God a chance to speak. Yet don’t be afraid to be honest to God as well,  I’m not sure that the Almighty assumes anything – that is our freedom.

Revd Derek Boswell