Praying the Lord’s Prayer in Our Time of Unrest

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day 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 evil.

Matthew 6:9-13, English Standard Version

Monday evening, during my evening prayer time, as I was praying The Lord’s Prayer, my spirit was quickened to the power and importance of applying Jesus’ model for prayer in this particular moment, when we, as a society, are in turmoil in the aftermath of the homicide of George Floyd in the custody of the Minneapolis police. The Lord’s Prayer, common to every branch of Christianity can be robbed of its place and power due to our familiarity with it; we know it so well and have said it so many times that we often hurry past it, not allowing it to speak to us, even as we talk to God. I believe it has much to teach us today.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
He is our father, not my father, not their father. God is the father of us all and we are all his children: black, white, brown, or any other color or race; Jew, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and every other faith or no faith at all. We are all children of the one Father. That is a reminder and a lesson we need today.
Father, help to remember that everyone is my brother or sister, that we are all children of the same father.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
What are we asking for when we ask for God’s kingdom to come to us, for his will do be done here on earth? We are asking for a kingdom where the supreme rule is extravagant love: love that is sacrificial, unmerited, and unconditional. When we ask that God’s will be done on earth we are asking that we “cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” (Isaiah 1:16-17, ESV) We are asking that “justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24, ESV) I need to remember that asking for God’s kingdom and that his will be done means that I need to be an agent of that kingdom and divine will; I need to love with God’s love, learn to do good, seek justice and correct oppression.
Father, my actions and attitudes show that I desire my kingdom and that my will be done. Forgive me and renew my heart, mind and soul; align my desires with your will!

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Many of us learned the latter part of this petition as “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” or “forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” No matter the formulation, the troubling implication remains: in this prayer we ask God to give us the same measure of forgiveness as we give to others. The debts I owe God are many; I do not love as I should, I desire my will and way, not his, I am too willing to look the other way and let injustice go by unnoticed and unchallenged, especially injustice done to others. I have much to be forgiven. Do I forgive others? An easy test for me is to ask, “am I judging?” If I am judging, then I am setting myself up to forgive only when I think someone merits forgiveness. I certainly do not what the Father to have that same meager level of forgiveness to me!
Father, forgive me for not loving as you love, for not crying out against injustice and correcting oppression; forgive me for desiring my will over yours. And forgive my lack of forgiveness to others; fill my heart with your Holy Spirit, replacing my judgments with your love and forgiveness for others.

Lead us not into temptation
What are my temptations? It is a long list. I am tempted by a spirit of fear; I fear that we have gone too far, that the tears in our social fabric cannot be repaired; I fear for my safety and security. I am tempted by a spirit of apathy, a desire to bury my head in the sand and pretend nothing is happening. I am tempted by a spirit of judgment, judgment of the police, our leaders, the protesters, and the rioters. I am tempted by a rationalizing spirit; I am tempted to convince myself that my fears, my apathy, and my judgments are all reasonable.
Father, show me my temptations for what they are: reactions to my persistent attempts at running my own life. By your spirit, replace my temptations with a desire for your will and your kingdom.

but deliver us from evil.
There seems to be no end of evil in the world today; you can have your pick of villains. Yet as I ponder the words “deliver us from evil,” I can’t help but think about the evil in our own hearts. :I need to be delivered from a heart that would rather judge than love, a heart that fears instead of trusting in God’s power and goodness, a heart that would rather look away and not confront injustice. That is the evil I need to be delivered from today.
Lord, I do want to be delivered from all evil, but especially today, break any power the enemy holds over my heart. Teach me to hear his deceits for what they are. Do not let me become ensnared in webs of judgement, hopelessness, fear, and apathy.


Featured image by Fibonacci Blue at https://flickr.com/photos/44550450@N04/49940390081, licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.

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