Monday, October 4, 2010

Jesus taught us how to pray:

Our Father,
who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day
our daily bread
and forgive us our
debts as we forgive
our debtors.
And lead us not
into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power,
and the glory forever.

Or something like that. This is the archetypal prayer: we honor God, we invite him to transform us, we ask that he give us what we need to survive, and we ask him to allow us to do his work uninterrupted. I have been reciting this prayer for as long as I can remember.

But what I just noticed is that this prayer is in the collective voice: our, we, us. I don't know why I didn't notice this before. I hadn't realized that Jesus was teaching us to pray as a community. This isn't the "Lord, let me get there on time" or "Lord, please get rid of this flu" type. This isn't even the "Lord, don't let him die" or "Lord, relieve the suffering in Haiti" or "Lord, give me a good harvest" or "Lord, show me the way" type.

This prayer essentially acknowledges God's presence in collective human existence. It doesn't ask for something so much as it puts into words what God does anyway. He gives humanity what it collectively needs to survive. He understands humanity's shortcomings, gives it transformation, and continuously lifts it into goodness. We are his people, and he is our rightful home, our power, and our radiance. Amen.

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