Today’s devotion was written by Deacon Karen Katamay.
“Therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for each other.” – 1 Peter 4:7-8
During Lent of this year I led a Bible study on the Lord’s Prayer. Most of us know the prayer by heart and can recite it easily if asked. The problem for us can be that we recite it so often, that we sometimes forget to focus on what those words mean. The study was just as helpful for me as it was for my group, because it helped me dig in to the meaning of each part of the prayer and explore it in depth.
As we pray the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, one helpful thing to remember is that this is a group prayer. Our Father … give us this day … forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us … and lead us not … but deliver us. See the pattern? Jesus was teaching us more than just a prayer to pray, he was teaching us to care for each other and to pray for one another. Everything we do, and every time we pray, we are to show our constant love for each other. We are to pray for daily bread for all who are hungry. We are to forgive others as we ask for our own forgiveness. We pray that God will deliver all of us from evil and keep all of us from temptation.
My favorite part of the prayer is about God’s kingdom. (Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven). I dream for the day when life on earth can be as it is in heaven, with everyone loving each other and caring for each other and following God’s will each and every day. Jesus gives us so many different images for what the kingdom of God is like. We can think of a net thrown into the sea, catching fish of every shape and kind and color, including all and leaving none out. We can think of yeast being mixed into flour, changing the flour and helping it to expand and grow and flourish. We can think of the kingdom of God as a great banquet, where all are invited and no one is left out and everyone has enough to eat. And many more. Jesus gave us these images because that is how he wanted us to see our life on earth – as the kingdom of God here on earth, with everyone loving and caring for each other.
So take time to pray the Lord’s Prayer this week and pause after each petition, reflecting on what it means. You can use the contemporary or traditional version, whichever you are more comfortable with. It might give the prayer a whole new meaning for you and a new love for all.
And the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours, forever and ever, Amen.