Prayer of Re-orientation

With my posse we discussed the Lord’s Prayer.  It is a prayer that we use every Sunday but I wonder how often we actually think about it.  The Lord’s Prayer is not a mantra but a model of prayer.  Rather like ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication) the Lord’s Prayer is meant more as a teaching prayer than a prayer to be recited week in, week out.  However not only does the model of the Lord’s Prayer contain adoration, confession, supplication but it is also a prayer of re-orientation.  When we become selfish in our faith thinking that it is something private and personal the Lord’s prayer reminds us that we are part of something much much bigger.

Our Father – not My Father, but our Father.  We cannot selfishly hold onto God for he belongs to us all.  When we pray Our Father we remind ourselves that we are part of a family, and God is the Parent, the one we rely on.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done – We are pointed back to God’s kingdom and not our own kingdom.  All of us are guilty at some level or another of kingdom building whether at home or work or even in the community.   We put our family, our work, our life first and save for a rainy day, rather than work for God’s kingdom.  Think of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He prayed not my will but yours be done.  Sometimes God’s will is far more challenging than we imagine.

On earth as it is in heaven – The angels and archangels are already doing God’s will.  We pray that we would be willing to submit to God’s will as well.  And it is important that we do it now, not just when we get to heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread – Do we trust God to provide for us or do you find yourself worrying about what you will eat or wear?  When comes to working for God do we trust him enough or are we waiting for the day when we have everything?  Our daily bread, our manna from heaven cannot be stored up but is enough for the day in hand.  Don’t worry about tomorrow for it will have enough troubles of its own.  And God will provide the courage, strength, peace, grace, mercy, love, patience, and whatever else we might need.  Just remember you might be the answer to another’s daily bread provision!

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors – Did Jesus know the poison that bitterness and anger brings?  I am sure he witnessed it and the most powerful words said were his – Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Forgiveness is a necessity for healing and letting go of all that will hold us back in God’s mission fields.  We cannot preach a forgiving welcoming God and then be miserable with the burdens we carry.

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil – The world is messed up but we have to play by its rules (wise as serpents and gentle as doves).  With God all things are possible but as Paul says in Ephesians 6:12 there are more things than we can imagine in the spiritual realms.  We pray that as we engage in spiritual warfare we won’t be distracted from our calling even when it costs us much.

For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory for ever Amen – We work not for ourselves but for God.  And as we finish our prayer we are reminded of his power, glory, eternalness and purpose.

It is not God’s job to make us feel important.  We are his subjects and we worship him.  However God is so loving that he allows us to call him Father – a personal term of love and relationship.  This is a powerful prayer and we dare not take it lightly.  It is a prayer of surrender, commitment and acknowledgement that God is in all things and through all things, and we are his.  Jesus lived his earthly life in constant submission to God his Father and we are called to follow his example (read John’s Gospel).  This prayer demands it.  Are you ready for everything this prayer will bring about?

God bless you and your journey with him. Comments and reflections welcome.

Love Sarah

Pondering Jesus

Some musings below from my recent readings and ponderings.

We live in what the experts call a change of era as opposed to an era of change.  We stand upon a precipice that is as dramatic as the change of era that wiped out dinosaurs,that brought about the agricultural age, the industrial era and the enlightenment.  We live in a post modern, post Christendom era that has new markers and needs new language, methods and leadership. These change of eras are happening more frequently and for some these changes have occurred within your own life span.  What once took hundreds of years is now taking decades.  The advance of technology, the rise of the tower of Babel as globalisation takes hold, the increasing search for nirvana whether through spirituality or addictions, and our own increased sense of ego give rise to this change of era.

The change of era challenges us and the church to question how we engage with the people God sent us to love.   Some would say “why reinvent the wheel?” or fix something that isn’t broke.  Folks we are tricking ourselves if we think that we can continue as we have done for the last 17 centuries (since Constantine formalised the Christian religion).  We cannot assume that everyone is naturally Christian or that they will know the basics of our faith.  We cannot assume that our role is to convert the Muslims or the Hindus or the Jews like missionaries sent into foreign lands. Our mission field is our community, the one on our doorsteps and we are being sent out like missionaries of old into this field.  When Jesus said the harvest fields were many and the workers few it wasn’t an excuse but a challenge.  Once we are harvested for God we become the workers.

God wants us to pull together and work for him in the harvest field he has given us.  And what a harvest field we have.  But we have issues of credibility to deal with. How far have we drifted from the Gospel? How caught up have we become with the institution of church that we no longer have the courage to challenge it? Are we modern day Pharisees? And yes I know that’s a tough question and it is one I have to answer too.

If Jesus came and lived out the Gospel in Forth or your village what would that look like? Take a moment to reflect on that question – be inspired! Write down your answers and then look at what we his body are actually doing.  Challenging isn’t it? And if it isn’t what are you missing? Seriously stop now and write down a few thoughts.

We are not reinventing the wheel – we are mending it.  The wheel of the Gospel needs to be reclaimed by the Church, by you and me and then put to work.  The wheel of the Gospel will bring about the following in our community:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18, 19 NIV)

because we are Christ’s body in this place.

If we are truly to be disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ we have much to learn and much to seek forgiveness for.  The amazing thing is that just as Jesus engaged with the fallen when he walked this earth he still engages with us today. Discipleship is about more than building up the lives of the faithful, but about journeying with God.  Remember we only plant the seed, it is up to God how he makes it grow.  Nor can we judge others from what we see for only God knows our hearts.

Too often we ask the question – how do we improve the church? How do we make the church more welcoming? We focus on buildings and technology and music and the right programmes (and yes these have a role to play) but perhaps if we put Christ back at the centre we would be welcoming far more into God’s kingdom.  Jesus said that he had nowhere to lay his head yet he touched the lives of thousands. Peter was terrified of the authorities yet when the Spirit came he preached the Good News without fear.  And history since then abounds with tales of the miraculous. I do believe that all things are possible with God.

But in order to receive we must ask, in order to find we must search and in order to move forward we must signal our willingness by knocking on the door.

We readily quote the verse Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever as if st means nothing has changed. Jesus hasn’t, but have we?

Christianity minus Christ equals religion! Especially now when we enter the post Easter/Ascension/Pentecost time of the year, let’s make an effort to put Christ at the centre of all we do, are and be.

God bless

Love Sarah