I fancy myself as fairly intelligent. I mean I am no rocket scientist. I definitely won't ever win a Nobel Prize for anything. When it comes to certain topics (or subjects in school) I definitely freeze, or my eyes glaze over. But for the most part, I THINK I am at or just slightly above average intelligence (until said subjects are the topic of conversation).
I used to think when it came to the Bible that I was fairly knowledgeable, but I certainly knew there was so much more I didn't understand. It seems as though when I read a familiar passage, I understand. Until one day I read it with a fresh set of eyes, or a different mindset, or I really pay attention to what I read.
And one day it happened. I read Matthew 6:9-13, and this time I really paid attention. The Lord's Prayer. I have read and recited this prayer so many times in my life that I don't even have to pay attention if I don't want to. It is as ingrained into my memory as the alphabet song is.
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 forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Great prayer, right? After all, Jesus spoke this prayer. He taught this prayer. So I have recited it all my life. It wasn't until recently that I realized I hadn't been paying attention.
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name ~ great start, right? Holy is His name, praising Him right from the start. I can do it.
Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Do we really mean this? I think we think we do, but do we act like this is really what we want? Do we understand that sometimes His will is not what we expect? That it may not be what we want? Then we think, "God. How can You do this to me? This is not what I wanted." Yet until we align our hearts and our minds with His heart and His mind, our will won't be His will. We need to think on things as He does, feel about things as He feels, have a heart for those He does. We need to align our will with His. Then we can ask Him for what we want, because we will want what He wants.
Give us this day our daily bread. Ouch this one hurts. It doesn't say "Give us this day our daily bread and the daily bread of those who are living in poverty." It doesn't say "Give us this day our daily bread, regardless of whose back had to be broken for me to get it." It doesn't say, "Give us this day our daily bread and give it in extreme abundance; in excess." It says give us what we need daily. So why does my home, why does my life, why do my jeans show excess and extreme abundance?
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. This one by far is the scariest notion of all. I used to skim over this one, "Yes, please God, help me forgive others as You so graciously forgave me." It was like a goal for me to shoot for. Some days I might be able to do it, others not so much. Then I sat down and really read it. I mean R. E. A. L. L. Y. read it. And forgive us our debts, as WE FORGIVE OTHERS. Wait...what? Forgive me the way I forgive others? Suddenly this is no longer a goal I should shoot for. What if God did forgive me as I forgive others? What would that look like? Some days that means He wouldn't forgive me at all. Or He would say He forgave me, but He wouldn't act like it. And He would bring it up, at least in His mind if not verbally, every chance He got.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. God allows us to be tempted. I am not sure He, Himself leads us there, but we certainly find ourselves there. God loves us each so very much. He wants to know how much we love Him. He wants to see how strong our faith is. Sometimes perhaps He allows it so WE can see how strong our faith is. 1 Corinthians 10:13 reads: No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. My eyes are opened. I understand now, I am paying attention now, to what you taught me to pray. Forgive me, Lord, for not having a heart after You, for living in excess while others live in poverty, for not forgiving others as I would want you to forgive me. Thank you for delivering me from the evil one and making a way of escape; please help me take that escape. Yours truly is the kingdom. Yours truly is the power. And Yours truly is the glory forever and ever. Amen.