Hi everyone. I write these thoughts during my lunch hour and I have just finished eating a half rack of BBQ ribs leftover from TGI Friday’s from last night (take out!) They were delicious and I feel well fed. All of which is a segue into today’s reading from Luke 11 and the Lord’s Prayer.
Probably most of us know the Lord’s Prayer off by heart, which might also mean we don’t think about it deeply enough because it’s so familiar. One of the ways I have found to be useful, to understand the meaning of the prayer, is to see how its spirit is drawn out in Psalm 103. I think Jesus used that Psalm as the basis for his prayer. Have a look at how each phrase in the Lord’s Prayer finds its counterpart in the Psalm:
“Our Father” – Psa. 103:13 – “as a father shows compassion to his children, to the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him”. When we pray “our father” we are demonstrating our relationship with the Creator of the Universe. That demands respect (as the Psalm says – we are to fear him) and reverence. It also means the Creator the Universe cares about us. We’re his children. During difficult times, like those we’re experiencing at the moment, God is taking care of us. He knows what we’re going through and he’s not going to let us endure anything beyond what we are able to bear. When he looks down on us and sees our anxiety, uncertainty, or whatever else it is we’re feeling, he does so with compassion. That should be a very comforting thing. The Creator of the Universe is looking out for us.
“hallowed be your name” – the name of God, as revealed to Moses on mount Sinai (Exodus 34:5-7), is his character. We see that character all the way through the Psalm but in particular in verses 7-8 – “He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Those words are a quotation from that passage in Exodus 34 and it’s interesting what the Psalmist says here in verse 7 about making known his ways to Moses but his acts to Israel. The difference between Moses and the Israelites in general is in their relationship with God. Moses spoke to God face to face, as a man speaks to his friend (see Exo. 34:7-11) and a key idea in that chapter in Exodus is the “ways” of God. That’s what Moses understood – God’s ways. All the children of Israel saw were God’s acts, like the plagues in Egypt and crossing the Red Sea. But they failed to see the spirit behind those acts, that God was performing them out of what it says in the Psalm in verse 8 – because he is a God of mercy, grace and love. Whatever happens in our lives, whether we are besieged by a coronavirus or look out at the beautiful mountains surrounding Simi Valley (as I have been blessed to do every day), all the acts of God are done according to his ways. That’s the lens through which we should view present circumstances. Whatever is the purpose behind causing society to grind to a halt and the threat of the virus, the Creator of the Universe is a loving God – that’s the essence of his character – and it’s his name which will be glorified through all of this. So let’s hallow that name, which means counting that name as holy, precious, important, meaningful and special. God’s name should be the central core motivation behind everything we say and do.
“Your kingdom come” – Psa. 103:19 – “The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all”; v22 – “Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion”. While we wait for Christ’s rule on earth let’s not forget, as the Psalm points out, that Yahweh is sovereign right now. He rules in the kingdom of men. He is in control. He can allow a virus to spread and brings nations to their knees. He is supreme and with the Creator of the Universe presiding over everything we don’t have to be afraid. Things aren’t going haywire and out of control. God is ruling from heaven and whatever the outcome of the events we’re experiencing his sovereignty will remain intact and be a little taste of the extreme power that will be given to us and the authority to help Christ rule when he returns.
“Your will be done, as in heaven, so in earth” – Psa. 103:21 – “Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!” The Psalmist reminds us that the angels, right now, are doing the will of God. They are God’s ministers sent from heaven to bring about events in the world that will usher in the Kingdom age. When we pray “your will be done” we are recognizing, again, the sovereignty of Yahweh and once again looking at world events through the lens of it all being part of God’s will. Just think of how powerful that will is, that God can use nature to subdue the whole world. If that is what God is doing right now just through an invisible virus, just think what the Kingdom will be like when we’re asked to bring about God’s will, for a thousand years and then into eternity. In the Kingdom age we’re going to be doing things like transforming the Sahara desert into a blossoming field. That’s one of my favorite visions of the kingdom. The Sahara desert is enormous but it’s God will that the desert shall blossom as the rose. Whoever is in charge, now as God’s minister on earth, of the Sahara project during the Kingdom, is going to be very blessed. And what about curing all the ills that plague humanity today? Like finally curing the common cold, and cancer.
“Give us each day our daily bread” (or BBQ ribs, had to explain the segue) – Psa. 103:2 – “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits”, v.5 – “who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle”. I have found myself, for the first time in my life, stressing about the availability of toilet paper (don’t worry, we have at least 2 weeks’ supply in the house at the moment). That’s ridiculous. When we pray “give us this day our daily bread” we are remembering that God’s takes care of his children. He will feed us and clothe us – let him take care of that – and let’s do our job by seeking first his kingdom and righteousness. Maybe that’s why we’re going through the present crisis. We, especially in the western world, have been used to an over abundance of food and supplies our whole lives. Maybe a little bit of stress because of empty shelves and wondering whether they’re going to restock or I have to line up at 6 in the morning to get toilet paper, is going to be good for us to teach us to depend on the Creator of the Universe.
I am going to leave the thought there because you get the idea. The rest of the Lord’s Prayer is also in the Psalm. Can anyone find the relevant verses? Let me know your thoughts.
Simi Hills, CA