Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray today in the selection from Matthew's Gospel by teaching them The Lord's Prayer. This prayer that is said by rote by so many of us who are Christian. Said by rote, but not unthinkingly is the hope. Although unthinkingly is not an impossibility. For many of us this prayer is so familiar that we may, at times, not hear the words, or think about what we are praying. Anything as familiar as this prayer can become just words, because of that deep familiarity. This is one of the reasons I like to alternate between saying the "traditional" and the "contemporary" versions of this prayer: we need to pause and think what we are saying.....pay attention.
The structure of this prayer that Jesus gives to us is fodder for reflection. Jesus tells us to: acknowledge God, praise God, ask that God's kingdom be made real and present to us, ask that God's will be made manifest around us, ask God for food, ask that God forgive us as we must forgive others, ask God to keep us from wrong decisions. In Matthew's version of this prayer we are to forgive our debtors and forgive those who trespass against us. Forgiveness arises twice in this short prayer provided by Matthew.
Jesus knows us so well: how easy it is for us not to forgive. But by its emphasis today, forgiveness is obviously a key piece to our being an integral part of this body of Christ in the world today. The lack of forgiveness can get in the way of everything else we try to accomplish. It can be a block to the love that we are to have for each other.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Scott and Christopher's Wedding, 2011.
(Thanks Christopher for posting some pictures!)