July 21 I Thursday
“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’” —Matthew 6:9-10
In Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, He teaches His disciples not to pray in a manner to be seen by others, but to pray in the secret place, and not to babble with many words, because the Father knows what they need before they ask. He then demonstrates how to pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:10-13).
If we were to summarize the structure of Jesus’s prayer, there are two parts to it. The first part is consumed with the love of God and aligning our lives with God. The whole opening is about our Father in heaven and His activity on earth. In other words, prayer is not about escaping day to day life. Rather, it is rooted in the earthiness of life, observing it from a different vantage point and seeking heaven’s guidance on earth’s activities; whereby ultimately, we align our hearts with what God is doing in and around us.
The second part of Jesus’s prayer is love of others and our relationship with others—the communal aspects of the Christian life. We are to realign with one another. Did we notice when Jesus prayed, “Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors” that it is in the plural? We are to lay before Him our practical daily needs, while we are also to confess and settle our accounts with Him, to process life with Him and to clear the air in our relationships with one another. It is important to remember this because so much of the rest of the New Testament teaching is rooted in community.
In Jesus’s teaching on prayer, He is rooting our understanding of prayer and our relationship in community into our prayer life, into the secret place. It is like Jesus saying to the early church, “I know your heart. I know that inevitably you will hurt one another, bruise one another, disappoint one another, sin against each other and not just casually make mistakes, but transgressions against one another.” Therefore, woven into our prayer life, needs to be the acknowledgment that we are not living the Christian life in isolation, but as part of a community, and we will need to constantly settle matters with one another in prayer.
Even in private, prayer is not just about our vertical relationship to God, but also about our horizontal relationships with each other.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for opening my eyes to know that prayer is not just about my relationship with You, but also about my relationship with others. Align my heart with Yours and realign my heart with others.
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