The Lord's Prayer, Take Two

I was going to write a post today filled with platitudes about what the Lord’s Prayer teaches us about praying.  

But the truth is, my own prayer life stinks.

 

If I wrote the kind of post I wanted to write, I would be the same kind of hypocrite that Jesus speaks against in the Sermon on the Mount. One who uses words to look holy and pious, but fails to do privately what she does publicly.

 

It’s true that I practice a certain kind of “prayer without ceasing” during my day. I walk around with an awareness of God’s presence and an invitation for him to be part of my activities that I never used to have. And I am so grateful for the way my faith has changed and grown to have this sort of richness.

 

But, for a long time now, I have struggled in my commitment to set aside time to pray. To speak to God with intention. To focus. To set aside distractions. To breathe. To listen. To be fully engaged in the act of prayer.

 

I long to change. I can feel in the fragmentation of myself, and my faith that I need to.

 

And so more than the words of the Lord’s prayer itself, I am hearing Jesus’ introduction to it. “When you pray… pray like this.” Not if you pray. Not if you get around to praying. Not if you feel so inclined to set aside the time once in awhile.

 

When you pray...

 

This is an invitation for our souls to come, and an expectation that we will. Not because we should pray, or are obligated to pray, or are holier if we pray, but because we can pray. Because we need to pray.

 

Pray like this.

 

Not as a formula, but as a holistic picture of what prayer can look like. Of what our God looks like.

 The Lord's Prayer

God is our Father. He is intimately concerned about our well-being. God is holy. But also, He forgives us. His holiness does not mean we have to measure up, but that He is immeasurable. God provides for our needs. But also, He is bringing His kingdom. His purposes are much more grand than our individual happiness.

 

Intentional prayer like the Lord's prayer centers us. It gives us perspective.

 

I need to pray more. Not because it makes me holy. But because it makes me whole.

 

(P.S. Jesus' teaching on prayer, which includes the Lord's Prayer, is found in Matthew 6.)

 

Jesus Said Lent Series ButtonA series to honor the Lenten season by reflecting on various teachings of Christ. Let’s think about who He was and what He came to do by talking about the words that came straight from His mouth.

Wonder: My Soul Magnifies the Lord

Busy. Distracted. Tired. Frustrated. Fragmented. Aren’t those words that resonate with how we feel much of the time? Especially during this season of the year.

We long to recreate the Christmas traditions and memories of our childhood, but as we add yet another item to our to-do list, even making a single batch of cookies feels difficult. We yearn to bring Jesus into the central focus of the celebrations, but we as we talk to yet more relatives about when we will see them and what we will exchange as gifts, we feel ourselves pulled in directions we don’t want to go.

And in the midst of that, something happens that we didn’t anticipate. And even the little bit of control we are holding onto seems to slip away from our fingers.

We spend this Christmas season desperately trying to weave our expectations, feelings, and actions together into something beautiful. Instead, we often feel frayed and disjointed.

What can hold us together?

Our souls.

We tend to think of our souls as some sort of ethereal vapor that will float away when we die. But when the Bible talks about our souls, it seems to be speaking of something much deeper than that. Our souls are not a piece of us, they are the essence of us. They are the core identity of who we are. They are what weave our minds, emotions, and strengths together into our personhood.

Our souls are the integration of our pieces.

In the Christmas story, Mary talks about her soul. She talks about her soul after her life is interrupted by crazy major life-altering news. After she journeys for days to sees her cousin Elizabeth.

After she has time to ponder that being blessed and favored by God may mean being judged and questioned by people. After she has time to realize that carrying Immanuel within her may mean being abandoned by loved ones around her.

After she has time to see that her life is likely to get more and more fragmented.

Mary chooses to not let her soul get pulled apart by these possibilities. She instead focuses it on the one who can hold her together.

My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior - Luke 1:46b-47 (NIV)

Mary’s mind may be wondering about the possible future outcomes, but her soul is marveling at the Lord she serves.

Mary’s emotions may be anxious about problems that are looming large, but her soul is magnifying the Lord who is greater.

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior - Luke 1:46b-47 (ESV)

We can choose to do this, too. We can choose to take a step back from our minds and our emotions and lift our souls in praise to God.

There will still be events and people and expectations that pull our strings and threaten to unravel us. But the hands of the Lord are stronger.

As we turn our souls to the Lord in worship, He picks us up our pieces, and knits us back together.

Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! - Luke 1:46b-47 (NLT)

Wonder: Rediscover the Christmas Story is an Advent series designed to help us pause and reflect on how amazing the stories of Jesus’ birth really are. To break through the cluttered busyness of the season and touch our hearts with the awe of what God has done. Let’s make this a season of wonder and worship, marveling together at our great God.