Lenten Devotional: February 21st
We pray the Lord's Prayer at NorthPark more than any other prayer.
We pray the Lord's Prayer at every worship service, every memorial service, and to end many committee meetings. It is one of the ways we bend our lives toward God in the way that God has offered, "thy kingdom come, thy will be done." But what exactly do we mean when we pray this prayer? Today we begin our devotional by looking at the Lord's Prayer.
It is significant that the first word of the prayer is "Our." It would be quite different if the prayer had started off "My father who art in heaven."
We don't say "Our" to be possessive. God is not our property. God is not to be domesticated as a cheerleader or cosmic Federal Express. We use "Our" to say that the God who is in heaven, the creator of the universe, has willed to become our God.
Thomas Aquinas says that we are created for no greater purpose than friendship with God. The "Our" reminds us that we cannot pray without friends. Think about how you were called to be a Christian. It was because of friendship with other Christians. Someone had to tell you the story. Someone had to live the faith in such a way that you said to yourself "I want to be part of that." Perhaps it was a parent, or Sunday School teacher, maybe someone at school or work. We become Christians only with help of community. We get by only with help from our friends.
It is a great reminder that you cannot be a Christian alone. Every time you say "Our Father," you are naming the way we are saved – as a group. Praying together, forgiving one another, telling the truth to one another, stumbling along after Jesus together, memorizing the moves until his way has become our way.
As Christians we also believe that our friends in faith extend beyond this present moment to the "communion of saints." It is the great community of those who have gone before us in the faith. Every time we gather to pray the "Our" includes the saints in heaven who join their voices to ours in praise of God, cheering us on in our present condition.
Christian prayer is not like taking a quiz in school where the teacher would not allow you to look on someone else's paper. You have those present around you in our church and the saints who have gone before you to help you pray.
When you pray "Our father" know that you never pray alone.
Rev. Brent Barry, Pastor, NorthPark Presbyterian Church