WEEK TWO, DAY ONE, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION
WEEK TWO THEME: PRAYER
DAY ONE TITLE: JESUS TEACHES US HOW TO PRAY
SCRIPTURE: LUKE 11:1-11
SCRIPTURE SNIPPET: “When you pray, say: ‘Father, uphold the holiness of your nature. Bring in your kindom. Give us the bread we need for today. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who has wronged us. And don’t lead us into temptation.”‘
THOUGHTS: Jesus takes time to pray. Being one with the Father makes me wonder why Jesus needed to pray. But as he has taken on humanness it makes perfect sense. His human tendencies are probably often in conflict with his Divinity. I think we can all relate to that dilemma – there are many things in our day to day living that cause us to feel divided, uncertain.. This makes my prayer time, and maybe yours, even more and more essential. If Jesus needed set apart time for prayer – how much more so do I. I am learning more and more about ongoing prayer. The idea of praying all the time yet having moments of committed and focused prayer for specific purposes, or moments of shared prayer with others. I am learning more and more about the privilege that is mine to be able to go directly to my Heavenly Father with everything. Boldly lifting up my thoughts and dreams and at the same time hoping and wanting them to line up with His hopes and dreams for me. It is a peaceful way and yet it is a “risky” way. I want to think that my thoughts are God’s thoughts, that God put them into me and gave them to me in the way of desires and passions. But I have to leave room for corrections. God is God and I am not! Sometimes my plans have to be refined for the greater good. Usually I am thinking a lot more narrowly than God is.
Jesus’ disciples are witnessing their leader pray. I’m sure that this happened many times and their curiosity is being peaked. What is he doing? What about it is important? Why are we wasting time? I don’t know who spoke up, but they want some direction here – “At least give us something like John did for his disciples”. Maybe they were seeking a deeper relationship with God here and wanted to more impactfully work towards Jesus’ goals. They could pray too. Was Jesus just waiting on them to ask? Was Jesus’ praying in front of them and then at times off by himself his leadership by example? It certainly had the disciples’ attention! Jesus quickly and easily gives them a model for praying – that we recognize as the “Lord’s Prayer”. I believed Jesus’ heart smiled! They were paying attention and taking a step!
The Lord’s prayer acknowledges God first and foremost as holy – a holiness that is and was and always will be. How much more ordered will our steps be as we do the same – each day – take the time to recognize God for who God is and walk in the light that the God of all things is watching over us and ordering our steps. This is kingdom living. Jesus said,
“Bring in your kingdom”. God’s kingdom is not a destination that we eventually get to, it is an attitude of living that comes with our ongoing recognition of God in our living, in our midst – in and about and everywhere… all the time. This is minute by minute work. Our humanness acknowledges it easily when things are going our way, but it is more difficult when we have to wrestle with the issues of the day or of our life. God’s kingdom is present as we release ourselves and allow God to work on our behalf…trusting his holiness.
“Give us the bread we need for today.” Our day to day life has needs – food, finances, obligations, personal preferences, etc. Bread is the essential element of living. It a very basic food group that can be found most anywhere – common to all human life. It is the simple grains of the field. When the Hebrew people were “starving” in the wilderness, they received manna – daily bread. It was enough for one day no matter how much they collected. It couldn’t be stored or pickled or preserved for tomorrow – if was enough for today – with the only exception being for the extra collected the day before the sabbath for the sabbath. God’s message here seems to be clear – trust me every day to meet that day’s needs. Tomorrow’s needs will be handled tomorrow, and on the sabbath all needs are covered in advance. Amazing!
“Forgive…” This portion on forgiveness is two-fold. We seek our own forgiveness for those times when we have ventured off the path in whatever direction for whatever reason. This forgiveness which is given freely to us is then a gift for us to give to others. How can we sincerely live lives of being forgiven without extending that forgiveness to others. This is a “kingdom living” concept that takes time and prayer to accompish. Somehow in our minds we can ask for all kinds of forgiveness thinking we deserve such grace, but when in is our turn to forgive, we are much more interested in actions of remorse. Not is God’s Kingdom. We are not entitled to any restitution – we forgive freely as we are freely forgiven! That’s asking a lot – but we are talking about God – and He doesn’t ask for what He hasn’t already given himself.
“…Lead us not into temptation…” When the Hebrews were wandering in the wilderness – much like our day to day living – God went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to lead them and by night as a pillar of fire to give them light. God didn’t stop doing that with the Hebrew people. He still goes ahead of us and behind us to keep us on task and on track. It is our job to follow. Sometimes our own impatience and free will cause us to go off-roading from God’s path. This holds up the whole process as He has to wait patiently for us to see the complications of our own path and come back. This is why a three-day trip across the desert took forty days for the Hebrew people. We have to allow God to be our leader. He doesn’t force that on us, we must require it of ourselves in constant and complete surrender.
After giving these prayer guides, Jesus gave the parable of the friend who at night goes to another friend asking for three loaves of bread to share in hospitality for a visitor. The friend in need is imposing on his neighbor after hours – the whole family is in bed and not to be disturbed. The response indicates that the friend in need is being unreasonable in their request. But because of the boldness of the friend in need to ask, the neighbor gets up and gives the friend the loaves. Jesus sums up this experience of the two friends by telling his disciples – “Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you. Everyone who asks, receives. Whoever seeks, finds. To everyone who knocks, the door is opened.” In earlier Bible studies I have heard that the verbs here in the Greek translatiion mean that it is not a one time ask, seek and knock – but an on-going ask, and keep on asking – seek and keep on seeking – knock and keep on knocking. God wants to hear from us and He wants to give us the desires of our hearts. Our asking, seeking and knocking deepens our relationship with our Father God so that we can received wholly and know the Source of all our answered prayers.
Lord, help me in my endeavor to live more and more in Your kingdom with all of my wants, needs and concerns realizing that You are The Holy One – all powerful, ever present and all knowing. Amen.