I have been speaking this week at the National Care Net Conference in Nashville. (Helpful Hint: Don’t walk around the Gaylord Opryland Hotel without your map. I only made that mistake once.)
Each morning, I get the privilege of walking several hundred people through the Sermon on the Mount. One chapter each day. Today was chapter six.
Tucked in the middle of this chapter Jesus says, This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven… (you know the rest)
Almost every time we look at this prayer we end up looking ONLY at this prayer. We don’t look at the conversation Jesus is having that surrounds His teaching on prayer.
And it’s that very conversation that makes all the difference.
Do you realize that this is not the only time – or even the first time – that Jesus talks about “our Father” in the Sermon on the Mount. In fact, this particular time is smack dab in the middle. Seven times before the Lord’s Prayer. Seven times after.
Whether He is looking at our actions, our enemies, our call to “be perfect” (yikes!), our generosity, our forgiveness, or our anxieties – the context of all of it is our relationship with “our Father.”
Have you ever thought about that? Have your ever fully embraced the relational aspect of the Lord’s Prayer?
It’s so tempting to simply look at the elements of the Lords prayer (praise, requests, forgiveness, protection) and see it only as a model for prayer. Yes…it is a model. But that model is lived out in the context of relationship.
When we keep that relationship in mind, our prayers change. It becomes less about telling a God who is “up there somewhere” what we want, and more about hanging out with a Father who cares deeply for us. Who guides us. Who forgives us. Who challenges us. Who comforts us. Who corrects us. Who wants us.
Oh…what a difference…