There used to be a tagline on an English newspaper that read “All human life is there.” As far as that particular paper was concerned, the claim could hardly be sustained, except as a negative version of Philippians 4:8, i.e.: “Whatever ISN’T true, whatever ISN’T noble, whatever ISN’T right, pure, or lovely etc. -think about such things.”
But perhaps the Lord’s Prayer could be said to better deserve the claim of containing “all human life…”
It begins with the highest, warmest and most intimate of relationships -a son with his father (“Our Father“). It continues, downhill, with a picture of a worshipper in the temple (“Hallowed be thy name“). And then, lower still, it describes the citizen in the state (“Thy kingdom come“). And then, still lower, the servant with his master (“Thy will be done“). Still descending , it describes a homeless person, ( “Give us this day our daily bread“), and then down to the context of debtor and creditor (“Forgive us our debts“) until we arrive at the bottom rung of the ladder: the captive in his chains, (“Deliver us from evil“).
Don’t you think that this short prayer better deserves the description, “All human life is there”?
Graham Scroggie commented: “In this comprehensive prayer, every chord in the gamut of human feeling is struck, and from every relationship in which we stand to God and man, ascends to heaven a sharp, short cry.”
“I used to think the Lord’s Prayer was a short prayer; but as I live longer, and see more of life, I begin to believe there is no such thing as getting through it. If a man, in praying that prayer, were to be stopped by every word until he had thoroughly prayed it, it would take him a lifetime. ” ( Henry Ward Beecher)
The thing is, that before we can pray, “Thy Kingdom come,” we must be willing to pray, “My Kingdom go.”
And before we can pray “Thy will de done,” we must be willing to pray “My will be put to one side.”
I used to pray that line again and again without really thinking about it. It simply means that your will and God’s will may not be the same!
So perhaps, this morning, (and every morning) I need to start fresh all over again. Jesus assumes that asking for forgiveness would be a daily occurrence, as would praying that we might be delivered from evil and led not into temptation.
So perhaps today I need to start at the bottom rung of the ladder and climb again, but this time in reverse order:
Break every chain that holds me, Lord. “Deliver me!”
Release me from the burden of my moral debts. Enable me to live debt-free (and to thus become a releaser of others’ debts).
Grant me all I need, and the faith to trust you for today, for “bread for today.”
And today, take first place in my choices, and in my world. Your will,Lord. Your kingdom.
So that I may reverence you, and stand in awe of you power and holiness. “Be hallowed.”
So that I may finally come home, and know you as my Dad.
Loved, embraced, accepted, safe. The only safe place to be is where you are “Father.”