Summary: The five implications of "The Lord’s Prayer" in our lives
Our Father in heaven Lk 11:1-13
Story: A young police officer was taking his final exam for the police academy
And he read the following question in the exam paper:
“You are on patrol in the outer city when an explosion occurs in a gas main in a nearby street.
On investigation you find that a large hole has been blown in the footpath and there is an overturned van nearby. Inside the van there is a strong smell of alcohol.
Both occupants—a man and a woman—are injured. You immediately recognize the woman as the wife of your Chief of Police, who is at present away in the USA.
A passing motorist stops to offer you assistance
and you realize that he is a man who is wanted
for armed robbery.
Suddenly a man runs shouting that his wife is expecting out of a nearby house, a baby and that the shock of the explosion has made the birth imminent.
Another man is crying for help, having been blown in the adjacent canal by the explosion, and he cannot swim.”
The examination question concluded :
“Describe in a few words what actions you would take.”
The young man thought for a moment, picked up his pen and wrote,
“I would take off my uniform and mingle with the crowd.”
Some of us see the difficulties of being a Christian in the same way.
We see the Christian life as trying to juggle five or six balls at one time whilst balancing a jug of water on our heads.
And when the pressure gets too much we want to give up and mingle with the crowd.
And so often it is because we spend our time trying to pass what we perceive to be “God’s exam” to make us “holy”.
After all, many of us imagine that it is only when we reach some sort of “spiritual plateau”, will we be able to “pray”!!
As I circulate in our parishes, people come up and chat and then might end the conversation by saying: “Say one for me, vicar”.
Is it really only the vicar’s prayers that are effective?
Do we have to attain some sort of spirituality before we can pray?
I would like to suggest to you this morning that Jesus had a very different perspective on prayer - as evidenced by our Gospel this morning and in particular by the Lord’s Prayer
Thomas Aquinas the famous medieval theologian once wrote:
The Lord’s Prayer is the most perfect of prayers... In it we ask, not only for all the things we can rightly desire, but also in the sequence that they should be desired. This prayer not only teaches us to ask for things, but also in what order we should desire them.
1.1 The Culture of Jesus’ day
In Jesus’ day there were three major cultures of the day.
The Jewish culture
The Greek culture and
The Roman culture.
1.1.1 Jewish culture
In Jewish culture, God was a distant figure, someone simply to be obeyed.
He even had a name - that could not be spoken. It was too holy.
And even today the Jews put a dash in place of the "o" in GOD.
To the Jews, God spoke to the nation of Israel but rarely to individuals, unless you were someone special like one of the prophets or King David.
He was a bit like the Headmaster at school. You only got to see him if you broke the rules!!
1.1.2 Greek and Roman Culture
In Greek Culture, the "gods" moved in a parallel world, almost capriciously playing with human beings.
The Greek “gods” considered man inferior and used them like figures in a chess game.
And in the Roman Culture the "gods" were considered distant and constantly needed to be appeased.
1.2 Jesus’ revolutionary ideas
Jesus came along and revolutionised the civilised world with his teaching.
And one of the revolutionary things he taught was that the Almighty God - El Shaddai of the Old Testament- the ALL POWEREFUL ONE - LOVES us and cares for us.
1.3. OUR FATHER
As Philip Yancey in his book entitled “Prayer” says:
“Jesus taught a model prayer – the Lord’s Prayer but otherwise gave few rules. His teaching reducees down to three principles: Keep it honest, keep it simple and keep it up (Philip Yancey - “Prayer” p183)
And this prayer start with the words “Our Father”
I would like to focus our thoughts this morning simply on these two words and suggest some implications that these two words have in our lives.
Firstly Jesus said: “Our Father” and not “My Father”.
The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer open to all of community of faith. It is a community prayer.
The original Aramaic word - that has been translated in the Lord’s Prayer as “Our Father” - is the word ABBA.