Dear Friends –
At times, I like to sit back, ponder what’s really important, and write what comes to mind. This year the theme is “Unwrapping an Old Gift.”
Have we ever really thought about the “Our Father,” the “Lord’s Prayer” as a gift? Until this year, just a month or so ago, I had not, but now I do.
In our upside down world, where what’s important is often ignored and what’s not important thought to be critical, I explored what to write about. Being the simple minded, basic person that I am, my aging brain was led to the simplicity and completeness of the Lord’s Prayer.
In a culture that produces unfathomable volumes of information that’s communicated worldwide at the speed of light, I was drawn to write about a topic that is unchanging, far reaching, relevant, and oozing with hope. The Lord’s Prayer is truly all of the above.
Most of us have been able to recite it mistake free for as long as we can remember. Just knowing the words isn’t enough, though. That would be like cradling a beautifully wrapped gift and leaving the wrapping paper untouched and the package unopened.
The Lord’s Prayer was uttered by Jesus Christ as He walked the earth as one of us. Jesus Christ, the Being through whom we were all created, the Savior of the world, gave us such a simple yet profound outline of how to pray. He gave us the wrapped gift. Let’s unwrap this old gift together and see what’s inside.
“Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed by 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, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.”
As stated, most of us can easily recite that prayer from memory. We’re also capable of speaking that prayer while thinking about anything and everything but the words we are saying. The Lord’s Prayer, when studied, says so very much about life. This should not be surprising, given the awesome wisdom and power of the author, Jesus Christ.
So, let’s do something that perhaps we’ve not done before. Rather than say the prayer and move on, let’s study it sentence fragment by sentence fragment. Like a coach diagrams a play, we will have a spiritual “chalk talk” on the “The Lord’s Prayer.”
Our … Means every human being that has ever, or will ever exist. We are united in our commonality of being a person. It is the entire set of all people. Not everyone but this type or that one. Everybody. Period.
Father … Is spelled out for us in Webster’s dictionary as “a man who has begotten a child; also capitalized, God, the first person of the Trinity.”
Our Father … As a two word fragment means that all of humanity has one source of existence, God our Father. Charles Darwin had it wrong.
Who Art in Heaven
Who … We’re speaking about our Father; the One Who made and loves us.
Art … Is now as we speak in Heaven. It’s where He resides – currently – at this time.
In Heaven … It’s an actual place; a location, again, where our Father resides.
Who Art in Heaven … This is not old news. It’s as relevant and accurate as when Jesus first said it. We’re not used to speaking to beings not on this earth, but just as we communicate by phone through electricity to people worldwide, we speak to God the Father in Heaven via the Holy Spirit connection.
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Hallowed … Means sacred, holy, special, set apart, different – like no other.
Be … Is current, now. What we’re talking about is as true today as ever.
Thy … We are talking to the very Being who made us – not about Him but to Him – direct communication.
Name … Is language that labels a person, place or thing. In an inadequate word or two, we try to encapsulate so very much. His Name, above all other names, is to be hallowed and set apart far above all others.
Thy Kingdom Come
Thy … We are still talking directly to Him, as He resides in Heaven. Through the power of the Holy Spirit that emanates from Him and He places in us, we speak to Him. Even though we understand so very little of our design and His plan and greatness, He loves to hear from us as we are His children.
Kingdom … “The eternal kingship of God; the realm in which God’s will is fulfilled.” So, Thy Kingdom in which God lives and created, currently sits in Heaven. It is God’s Kingdom.
Come … Come to where? We reside on earth so the logical conclusion is for His Kingdom to come to this planet earth. Heaven’s ways – God’s Kingdom in Heaven – His way – is coming to this earth so that this earth can experience and become what He originally designed it to be.
Thy Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven
Thy … Our direct message to God the Father continues.
Will … What God the Father wants is defined as His “will.” His Kingdom is the manifestation of His will. His Kingdom is governed by love, which is summarized by Paul in the New Testament and through the Commandments in the Old Testament.
Be Done on Earth … What has happened on earth over the centuries and happens on earth today might be defined as a million parts not His will to one part His will. Suffering, pain, disappointment, and despair permeate this life. Without God, death is our destiny. Yes, God’s will and beauty do occur but they are grossly overmatched by a world on earth where God allows Satan’s will to prevail, but only for now.
As it is in Heaven … This is real! Heaven is real and where the God Family now resides. God the Father, our Creator – Jesus Christ, His begotten Son, through whom all things were created – and the Holy Spirit, the power that emanates from the Father and opens our minds and connects us to God’s ways – make up the God family. Heaven is a living, live, real place where God’s will is lived out. Love is the “label” word of Heaven. God’s miraculous plan and awesome power includes the eventual fulfillment of His plan for this earth and its inhabitants. We are praying for God’s will to be done on earth as it has been for ages in Heaven.
Halftime of the Chalk Talk: To this point in the Lord’s Prayer the message covers big picture concepts: We have a direct line to and relationship with the supreme Being and we are asking for the most wonderful gift: For the awesome life of Heaven that is the manifestation of His will to be brought to this earth and replace the pain, suffering and death of the life we know on earth. The remainder of the Lord’s Prayer fundamentally addresses what we are to pray for until the earth’s conversion to and rule by God’s will.
Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
Give Us … He has the power to give and we are in need of receiving what He gives. All good things come from God. We are helpless without what He gives and because He created us, loves us and has an unimaginable plan for us – He wants to give to us! God gives us peace and joy, air and water, food and shelter. We are so dependent on what He gives us. Despite our astonishing inventions and technological progress as humans, consider how utterly helpless we are in creating the basic building blocks and necessities of life.
This Day … While it’s uplifting to think about the great future God has planned for us, we have no choice but to also stay focused on the responsibilities and opportunities of what is immediately before us – today.
Our Daily Bread … Yes, we all need physical food, such as bread, but we might better understand the use of the word “bread” in this context as all of our physical and spiritual needs that help us through the day. Please provide, Lord, all that we need to carry on through the day with our responsibilities. Give us the strength we need to pursue the opportunities we encounter – opportunities to give, to succeed, to tolerate, to accomplish.
And Forgive Us Our Trespasses
And … We’re not done yet, Father. We need so very much. There is more.
Forgive Us … Each and every one of us needs forgiveness because we all fail. We all sin. Please overlook our failings, our transgressions, our sin, Father. Forgive us.
Our Trespasses … Trespass means to go beyond the limits of what is considered right or moral; transgress. Lord, please forgive us and love us despite who we are and what we’ve done against your ways.
As We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us
As We Forgive Those … Interesting. Part of asking for forgiveness from our Father is that we, too, are to forgive others – all others. All includes the likes of family members we might be at odds with, oppressive individuals in power, misguided religious zealots – all – not just those we might choose to.
Who Trespass Against Us … Well, who does trespass against us? Unfortunately, no human being and no relationship between people are exempt or set apart from such trespasses and therefore the need for forgiveness. Spouses & siblings, parents & children, in-laws & best friends, supervisors & governors, criminals & clergy – we all have the capacity and the propensity to trespass against, hurt, disappoint or betray. So, we must be prepared to potentially forgive any and all who might trespass against us.
And Lead Us Not Into Temptation
And … No, we’re still not done. Yes, we are a needy bunch, Father.
Lead Us … You, Father, set the path. You, establish the way. Lead us on the path of salvation, to eternity. Show us your kingdom, your design for life, your plan. Teach us that if we follow our own path – the end is destruction, full of hopelessness. And that if we follow the path you have laid, that experiencing your glory and hope is our destiny. Forever.
Not Into Temptation … We live in an age where the delineation between right & wrong is so blurred that many do not recognize the word temptation in the context of good & evil. All of us are subject to this blurred vision. Our weaknesses vary, but our need to be removed from the temptations that surround us is the same. Lead us away from temptation, Lord.
But Deliver Us From Evil
But Deliver Us … Save us from the cunning, deceitful lies of Satan. Deliver us from the very thought that is so prevalent today – that Satan doesn’t even exist, let alone have the ability to tempt or influence us in any way. He is very much alive and very powerful if we choose to fight the battle ourselves, yet powerless if we call on the name of God to lead us and deliver us.
From Evil … The output of Satan is evil, every bit as much as the output of God is good. Evil manifests itself in subtle and obvious ways, from self righteousness to heinous crimes. We are not to be fooled into modern day thinking that good & evil are things of the past. God’s word says they are as relevant today as ever.
Amen … So be it. God’s word in general and the Lord’s Prayer in particular are the greatest gift of all. Open the package. Keep it opened all year long. Let’s make an old gift new again.
Enjoy the gift!