Wednesday

Matthew 6:9-15 Wednesday 10 August 2016

Psalm: Psalm 132


Background

It was the custom of Jewish teachers (Rabbis) to offerinstruction to their followers on prayer, almsgiving and fasting.In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus introduces one of the two forms of theLord's Prayer in the Gospels (the other is Luke11:2-4). The prayers are likely to be adaptations of one of theancient and most used Aramaic Jewish prayer known as the'Qaddish'('let be sanctified' or 'hallowed').

The major difference between these two prayers is that theLord's Prayer is written in the second person, as opposed to thepetitions of the 'Qaddish' which are written in the third person.Jesus teaches his disciples to speak directly to God and in thesame manner he does. In this we are invited to stand in the samerelationship as Jesus in speaking to God as "Our Father". Thisdirect speech is very clearly of a communal nature. Matthew beginswith "Our Father" we go on to read "Giveus this day, our daily bread. Andforgiveus ourdebts". More than ever we need to hear the communalvoice of this text, in the self-centred, self-absorbed worldin which we live. God's invitation, through Jesus, in this prayeris an orientation to God, which also turns us towards the needs ofone another. For God's kingdom to come amongst us we need tochallenge the individualism of our culture. Whenever we pray theLord's Prayer we are recognising our neighbour's needs alongsideour own. For the kingdom of heaven (God's reign or sphere of rule)to be known, we need to recover a sense of what it means to serveone another.

Every time we pray this prayer we ask God to shape us and thelife of God's world. After petitions orientating us to the reign ofGod amongst us, only then do we turn to our own needs. Our ownneeds are placed firmly in the understanding that the "our bread"is the bread for the life of the world. We are asking for bread foreveryone, so until all are fed and no-one goes hungry this prayerwill not be fulfilled.

The Lord's Prayer is a cry for justice for the whole ofhumanity. Above all prayer is God's work in us and contains ourpromise to be present to the God who is present to us.


To Ponder

  • In reflecting on this text, who are 'your' neighbours?
  • How often do you pray for 'your' neighbours?
  • How often do our actions mirror (ie become part of theresponse) to the word of our prayers?
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