"My big Daddy above all, your name stands alone. Bring your country, bring your desires to this place, may they happen here as in your country which is far better! Give me what I need to get through this day, and forgive my selfish desires that hurt you, as I forgive those who hurt me. Please don't let me be tempted, as I know I will fall. Rescue me from evil." - Jesus (mis-quoted by Phil)
This week I've been challenged to just pray the Lord's prayer whenever I want to pray. It's really amazing! I need this prayer. For it tunes me to the heart of God and takes me to the springs of his heart.
I tend to pray willy-nilly, half talking to myself, half seeking some nebulous God to hear and answer. Sometimes I ask him to meet my demands, and sometimes, as I try to envision him and really pray for others, I get headaches. I've learned that I pray like I'm God. "Please heal my friend, please work this out for so-and-so, please help me to get this done." It's all about my desires, not surrendering to God's desire, or will.
The Lord's prayer teaches me that God's desire is where it's all at. When I fall in line with him, I find peace, joy, strength, protection and rescue. These are no small benefits. I'd say they're sort of desirable.
And I learn in the Lord's prayer about worlds colliding. God's world meeting ours. I ask for his country to come. This reminds me of Aslan bringing Spring in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. It reminds me that I live in a rebel land, with a rebel heart and am a small person who needs a big God.
It teaches much, much more. More than my heart can speak right now. Some mystic said somewhere that "You can't say the Lord's prayer and remain unchanged." It is that powerful and beautifully simple. The words like "Father," "thy will," "thy kingdom" all speak of a reality beyond us. It is our depedance. It is our source of hope. Our source of life. From this kingdom we receive every breath.
And even though I translated it in the first person singular, the first person plural teaches me that as humans we are in this together with God. There are no more hopeful words than "we're in this together." We need to hear this more in church, more in our lives and more in the everyday.
I apologized to Melissa last night for ignoring the kids, then went on to ingore the kids again and she forgave me both times! She showed me that we are in this "God country coming" together, with her patience and forgiveness. She's a tangible reality of grace.
I don't want to stop praying. But I'm tired of praying in the wrong direction. My hope is that as I rehearse and ponder the prayer Jesus recommended (pretty high props!), I'll begin to listen and speak to the real God. Not a figment of my imagination. Not a positive self pep-talk. But real engagement, real communion with the living God. Living. That's what I want.