Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Meditation on the Lord's Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer
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; For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.  Amen.
Am I worthy enough to offer prayer to God?  When we think about our sinful lives and the fact that we were born enemies of God, the answer to that question is a resounding, “No!”  But thankfully prayer is not based upon a level of worthiness which we have fulfilled.  As we continue our meditations on the Catechism, the Lord’s Prayer teaches us the necessity of prayer and the importance of it, but it also teaches us the proper way to approach prayer by directing us to ask for specific things.  In the Lord’s Prayer we see that of the seven petitions, six of them focus on spiritual blessings.  All of these blessings flow from repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as our one true Savior.  Daily bread is even granted to the wicked, but forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are withheld from those who deny the Triune God and refuse the gracious gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Prayer for the Christian is commanded, because we as sinner/saints need to be reminded of the necessity of prayer and of the promises attached to it.  The admonition to pray is included in the Second Commandment, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”  If we are to use God’s name properly them we are to call upon Him at all times making our prayers and requests known to him with thanksgiving.  All true prayer proceeds out of faith in the true God.  We might reasonably assume that if our faith is right, our prayer life is right also, but unfortunately our prayers are far and few between.  Like the wicked who are given their daily bread, we assume that we are content or that God will grant our needs without our requests.  Our prayers are often lacking in abundance and zeal, causing us to neglect a great blessing and promise that God has given.  God has promised to answer our prayers, but we are often to busy to ask, or too ashamed, or too distracted.
We may even rightly feel that we do not know how to pray, but for this there is no excuse.  Countless prayers of the faithful have been recorded in Scripture.  Psalms is the prayerbook of the Bible.  Jesus prayed many times throughout his ministry as recorded throughout the Gospels, that we might know better how to pray.  There are countless prayers throughout the Bible that teach us how we are to pray and for what we ought to pray.  God has indeed commanded us to pray and promised to hear us.  He has given us prayers to pray that reflect our unworthiness but trust in the steadfast mercy of God and His lovingkindness showered upon us by the blood of His Son. This is why true prayer is offered through Jesus work of Salvation for us.
Even our best prayers are translated by the Holy Spirit so that they may be presentable to God in accordance with his will.  Many of us have distress and troubles in our lives that should be burdened by God, and not pressing down upon our shoulders as though a great immovable weight is pinning us down.  Many of these God allows to happen so that we may more faithfully turn to Him in prayer and trust and rely upon His grace as He told St. Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you.”  But instead of letting our requests be made known to God, we unnecessarily shoulder the weight and burden alone and become embittered.  Rather we should learn to rely on our God and Savior who desires to help us and lead us to everlasting life.  “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall he not with Him also feely give us all things?”
Prayer is not just a command, but it is a gift that God has granted to us so that we may learn to rely more and more on Him each and every day for spiritual and earthly blessings.  Prayer is one of the tools by which the devil is kept at bay, because the praying Christian is relying not on himself but upon God.  May God grant us confident hearts to trust in Him.
O Lord, let Your merciful ears be attentive to the prayers of Your servants, and by Your Word and Spirit teach us how to pray that our petitions may be pleasing before You; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.