This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven…”
Interesting how one pronoun changes everything. For years, I’ve prayed through the Lord’s Prayer, knowing those lines, and yet I rarely prayed it literally. Funny since, being an evangelical, I’ve been trained to read the Bible “literally.” But though we evangelicals often say that is our way of interpreting Scripture, when it comes to certain passages our sub-cultural traditions take precedence (for instance, in your next Bible study, try asking evangelicals if Jesus really meant the poor when he said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor” in Luke 4, or, “Blessed are you who are poor,” in Luke 6).
So, here we were in our Oasis gathering Sunday night when my friend Miche brings up the fact that when he prays “we” prayers instead of “me” prayers, it radically changes the meaning of his prayers and gives them deeper context, meaning, and practicality.
As evangelicals, in our zeal to promote each individual’s “personal relationship with God,” we have shifted the balance of our prayers toward the “me and God” kind. And then we pat ourselves on the back that we’ve taken the Lord’s Prayer and “personalized it” so that it has more significant meaning.
But then the prayer of the evangelical gets truncated to this:
My Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give me today my daily bread.
And forgive me my debts,
as I also have forgiven my debtors.
And lead me not into temptation,
but deliver me from evil.
I need to remember that The Lord’s Prayer starts out with, “Our Father in heaven.”
Not, “My Father in heaven.”
What would happen to our prayers if we intentionally prayed for “us?” What would happen to our prayers if our “me” prayers were shifted from individualism toward interdependence - my living in the context of “community?” If being human means being relational, then everything we do as Christians is to be done in the context of redeeming all our relationships (with God, with others, and with the Creation).
What would happen if we read the Lord’s Prayer literally?
technorati: emerging church, spiritual formation, missional