Summary: In the Lords Prayer as seen in Matthew 6:9-15 Jesus not only teaches us HOW to pray but also gives us insight into how he views the community of faith.
There are many cases to be made for the community versus the isolated individual. Not only do we see a biblical theme that rebukes isolationism, but one that admonishes our need for one another. One of the strongest biblical arguments for the community comes from the Lord’s prayer as seen in Matthew 6:9-13, where Jesus not only instructs his disciples how to pray, but he gives us some defining characteristics about being a disciple within the communal context.
- Questions to ask, 1.) What are some of the things you find most difficult about being in community? 2.) What are some of the things you've found most rewarding about being in community?
A few quotes to frame the sermon:
1.) “The drift of our time is away from connection, relation, communion, and dialogue, and our intellectual concerns reflect this conviction. Alienation, once seen as imposed on men by an unjust economic system, is increasingly chosen by men as their basic stance towards society.” – Kenneth Keniston, The Uncommitted. P.3, 1960.
2.) "But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.” – Ephesians 4:15-16
3.) “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” –Acts 2:44-47
These quotes give a brief secular and biblical viewpoint about fellowship and gathering together. However, what I am really interested in here are the words that Jesus uses in the Lord's Prayer that give us insight to how HE saw the community of faith.
Speaking about the Lord's Prayer generally, "The fact that the Lord’s Prayer has thus provided a vehicle of living prayer for nearly two millennia says much for the spiritual power of these words and for the spiritual insight of the one who taught them.” Dunn, Dictionary of Jesus, 620
[READ ALOUD THE LORD'S PRAYER TOGETHER]
There are 3 specific things we will draw out of the Lord's Prayer together:
1. The divine community acknowledges its need for one another.
- The 1st step in any 12-step program is always admission. We need to admit that we have a very serious problem. We get offended, we break fellowship, we church hop, we turn our backs on God. As we go through the Lord’s Prayer we should immediately see the use of the plural, ‘Our, us, and we.’ Think of the spiritual implications of this small nuance and remember verses like Ephesians 5:23 where we see that Christ is head of the church, and 1 Peter 2:9-10
- We are interdependent... Look at Romans 12:4-5, Ephesians 5:21, and 1 Peter 2:4-5. "“The pray-er prays to God alone, but not for the pray-er alone. There is no selfish self-seeking or attempt to steal advantage over another. The pray-er prays as part of and on behalf of the whole community of those dependent on God. The one is benefitted only by that which benefits ALL.” Dunn, Dictionary of Jesus, 622
2. The divine community always puts God and His kingdom first.
- Look at Matthew 6:9-10 and see specifically how Jesus begins His prayer. He not only uses the plural pronoun 'Our' but He immediately acknowledges the Father's rightful place in heaven and asks that His will be done 1st and foremost.
- After putting God in His rightful place, then the community turns in prayer towards it's collective needs as we see in the next several verses. Don't miss that the plural pronouns continue to be used throughout the prayer, highlighting the communal - not the individual emphasis of the prayer.
3. The divine community is to be marked by forgiveness.
- As modeled first and foremost by Jesus' own death on the cross so that the community of faith could experience forgiveness we are also to share forgiveness with one another. If you look further into the passage at verses 14 & 15 you will see that God challenges the community to forgive generously and to consider that if there is one who will not engage in forgiveness that they will not be forgiven by their Father in heaven.