Jul 25

A Plea for Mercy

Mercy. The high point of true prayer is not when we pray for our own needs—not in this life. The deepest prayer is not for ourselves, not for our desires, not for what we want, not for the increase of this or that. The deepest, truest, most Christian prayer we can offer, in this life, is the prayer for mercy. Mercy. Continue reading

Mar 21

The Lord’s Prayer 6: Kingdom, Power, Glory

Kingdom, power, and glory: these might be the most tantalizing words in the Lord’s Prayer. Who among us hasn’t dreamed of ruling the world? If I were king, if I were president… What about power—which one of us hasn’t longed for some special power, to get people to do what we want, maybe, or to feel good about ourselves? And glory—wouldn’t it be great if people would finally recognize all the hard work we do, finally acknowledge how important we are, finally say, “Thank you, you’re wonderful!” Oh, if only we could have a little more glory! Continue reading

Mar 13

The Lord’s Prayer 5: Deliver Us

We began our series on the Lord’s Prayer, four weeks ago, by reading about the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. As we learned to pray “our Father” with the only-begotten Son of God, we watched as Christ turned away each of the devil’s tempting offers: turn bread into stone; worship me, in exchange for power over this world; test God to see if he’ll really protect you. Jesus Christ is the new Adam, the new Eve, the Son of Man who overcomes temptation. But today, as we near the end of our series on the Lord’s Prayer, we meet Judas Iscariot, the old Adam, the man who gives in to temptation, the man who cannot resist what Satan has to offer. Continue reading

Mar 07

The Lord’s Prayer 4: Forgive, As We Forgive

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” What a thing to pray! Of all that Christ insists we do as his disciples, forgiveness can be the most challenging. The friend who has betrayed you. The sibling who won’t speak with you. The neighbor who threatened to sue you. The enemy who tried to kill you. Forgiveness is never easy for us; sometimes, it feels impossible. Yet this is the point in the Lord’s Prayer when we ask God to hold us accountable, to hold us to a standard. Not: forgive us our sins. Not: have mercy on us. Forgive us, as we forgive. Give us according to how we give. Use our faithfulness as a measure of your grace, o Lord. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Continue reading

Feb 29

The Lord’s Prayer 3: Give Us This Day

We think we know what we want. We think we know what we need. We need food, shelter, clothing, security. We want nice things, some fun toys, a little luxury, maybe. And then Jesus comes along and tells his disciples—tells us, When you pray, say, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Not: give us the car we’ve always wanted. Not: give me what I’ve earned, what I deserve. Not: give my family that great vacation we really need. “Give us this day our daily bread.” Continue reading