9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Matthew 6:9-13
In Luke 11:1, we have the essentially the same prayer, but this time it is the disciples who asked Jesus to teach them to pray.
And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
In most bibles, this section of scripture is called the model prayer. Some of us have been taught to quote this prayer verbatim when we pray. The “Lord’s Prayer”, as it is called is a of safe, catch all prayer we can say when our mind goes blank and we don’t know what to pray — or a safe prayer we can make in public when we don’t want to offend anyone.
We have also been taught that the “Lord’s Prayer” is a formula: an outline for an effective prayer. It is said that this Jesus’ prayer a listing of the essential components which must be part of our prayer if we expect God to hear us. They say that if we fail to touch on each topic that Jesus mentioned, maybe our prayer won’t be acceptable to God.
I believe Jesus was saying something else entirely. He was correcting false ideas about prayer that were taught then and still taught to this day. Lets parse this
38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. 43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:38-48
Now, we respond to what Jesus said here in many ways.:
- We might say: I can’t just stand there and let someone attack me and not fight back. My survival instincts will take over. It is foolish not to try to defend yourself.We could think, I have to protect the things I worked for. No one can just come up and take what belongs to me without a fight.
- Or we could say, and some commentators say that Jesus was speaking to a 1st century Jewish audience. He gave them the wise way to handle the abusive tactics of the Roman soldiers. He was teaching how to live in a godly, dignified way in the face of an oppressive state.
- I might even say, I don’t understand what Jesus is saying. But I know this. No one is going to disrespect me. I can’t be a push over. I can’t be used and abused. I can’t be a doormat, a pushover, a punk, a weakling, a wuss. Lay a hand on me and draw back a nub
- What is your reaction?