Posted on March 30, 2015
I’m appreciating this short devotional from Ben Myers, a scholar in Australia on the line in the Lord’s prayer – ‘Deliver us from Evil’.
I grew into faith in a Church tradition that taught me to pray as an individual and to pray spontaneously what ever I felt needed to be prayed. I continue to be grateful for that influence as I have rarely struggled to be assured of a personal connection1 with Jesus in prayer, and I have always felt the permission to dive right into what I felt was significant for me in prayer.
My boldness was fueled by continual encouragements, that ‘the curtain has been torn’ and ‘we can approach the throne boldly’ because of what Jesus has done. I still believe I was (and do) partake in what Jesus made available to us, though my boldness probably often looked more like cluelessness than carrying any sense of healthy reverence. Don’t get me wrong, I am not now tip toeing into a place of prayer, worried I will actually wake some sleeping dragon of a God. No, but I am making the point that often in our enthusiasm to make a big deal of permission Jesus has made possible, we have too often made our image of God small.
Where this model (the individualist and spontaneous) of prayer breaks down is when I don’t feel like praying, or when I don’t have the words or emotional capacity to find them. Like any relationship, silence rarely contributes all that is needed for a sense of ongoing connection. That is why I appreciate what Myers is saying in this video. The Discipline of prayer creates rhythm that doesn’t rely on spontaneity. It creates a faithfulness in us to pray when our best efforts can’t rise to the occasion.
Praying the Lord’s prayer also connects to the global church in ways our loss of catholicity2 has robbed many other ways of doing. The discipline of praying a written prayer that is shared by all bible readers everywhere helps us pray the prayer for others when we don’t feel we need to pray it for ourselves. It encourages a collective imagination, that somehow the freedom and blessing of the whole is tied into my personal experience of those things.When we are honest, even when we feel up to the job, as it where, prayer is an admission that it takes much more than just our best efforts. It looks to God and says; “The World is about more than just me, it takes much more than me, it takes us (the people of God) and it takes You (God).”
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.