Tuesday 23 February 2010

Bible Book:

"Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." (v.12)

Matthew 6:7-15 Tuesday 23 February 2010


This passage contains a jewel - the Lord's Prayer. It sparklesso much because it is encased in clear warnings about wrong-headedunderstandings of prayer. Verses 7-8 tell us prayer is notsomething which increases in value the longer it goes on or themore of it there is. And prayer is not to be centred on ourselves:God knows what we need without our having to say it. In verses14-15 Jesus insists that prayer to God has no point if it isdivorced from our actions towards our neighbours.

The Lord's Prayer itself is a miracle of compression. It merits alifetime of daily reflection to plumb its depths. Every time anindividual utters this prayer, he or she confidently follows Jesusin calling God - the hidden, infinite mystery in and beyond allthings - 'Father'. (No sexism intended here. It is appropriate alsoto call God 'Mother', or perhaps better, 'Father andMother'.)

The prayer of Jesus focuses our longing on what matters more thananything else: the coming of God's kingdom. Already Jesus'disciples taste the new life and peace of God's kingdom. This,Jesus has made possible for us through his mission, passion anddeath on a cross. So we pray for more of the kingdom, until itsupplants all hurts, violence and evil.

The key challenge of Jesus' prayer is the issue of forgiveness.God's grace deals with our personal guilt, of course, as also withthose unspeakable evils in our national and collective historywhich cannot be put right, much as we would like to undo theirharm. But note what Jesus stresses: before God can free us from ourpast, disciples must forgive those who owe them something and thosewho have caused them deep hurt. And will it not be true thatdisciples will need also to receive forgiveness - from people towhom they are in debt and people they have trampled over? Mutualforgiveness is the mark of kingdom life here and now (ie that wayof living together which is under the undisputed authority ofGod).

To Ponder

There is no 'right' way of praying. But is thetime ripe to refresh your praying? Why not review the balancebetween praying in your own words and using the words ofothers?

It's wonderful to be forgiven. It doesn't followthat it is easy to forgive others. Hurts can go deep. Who can helpyou to make that step?

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