March 28, 2010

A Daily Online Lenten Study Guide: Day 35



Monte Holland

This is the thirteenth in a series of daily Lenten devotionals called “Scriptural Lessons Leading to a Godly and Moral Life.” To start the study, click on: A Daily Online Lenten Study Guide: Introduction or

 To view yesterday’s A DAILY ON-LINE LENTEN STUDY GUIDE click on: A Daily Online Lenten Study Guide: Day 34

Today’s photographs feature First United Methodist Church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where Monte had the opportunity to preach in 2003. To view click on:

The Lord’s Prayer (part 2)

     Today, we will look at the Lord’s Prayer and what it says. While reading the words is important, the “rubber hits the road” when we pray it and experience God’s presence in that time of meditation.

     The Lord’s Prayer is well-known because it is used so often. It is about the only prayer that can be said by many people in unison in public without a printed sheet. Church services usually include the Lord’s Prayer, prayed in unison.

     When I was growing up, we always prayed the Lord’s Prayer as a team before our high school wrestling matches. For many of the athletes, it was their only contact with that prayer and became a way to learn to recite it. It was also a good prayer to recite, because the alternative might have been a prayer to ask God to help us beat the other team—which isn’t in the true spirit of praying to God.

Our Father in heaven, help us to honor your name.

     In the King James Version style, Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.,

we acknowledge that God exists, that God is in heaven (in reality everywhere)— and that God above all else is worthy of honor.

     We talk about a person’s name and whether that name has a good reputation. Last year my daughter asked me if I was going to order a load of topsoil from the area businessman whose name we had seen on a roadside sign. She added that she spoke to a person at work who lived near the man and vouched for his reputation, even though he didn’t know the man personally. In other words the businessman had a “good” name. That sealed the deal for us.

     In the Lord’s Prayer we verbally say that we know God to have a “good” name and we aren’t afraid to tell others that God’s name is not only good, but to be revered.

    10Come and set up your kingdom, so that everyone on earth will obey you, as you are obeyed

   in heaven.

      In the more traditional King James style we say, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

     In this verse we have shades of the Beatitudes, in which Jesus had stated just previously in Matthew: “Those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake are to be blessed with a foretaste of the kingdom of heaven.”  

     In the Lord’s Prayer we ask God for the kingdom of heaven to come into our midst.

    I don’t think it is stretching the meaning here to say that we are also inviting the persecution that comes to those who follow Jesus closely. We should not pray this prayer lightly, since we praying that our level of commitment and risk-taking for the Lord God step up a notch. Do we really mean it, and are we ready for the consequences?

     On the grand scale this prayer makes a plea for a better world, one in which obedience to God is on the hearts and minds of all of humanity. This has not been realized throughout history, but it is something that we agree with God about each time we say the Lord’s Prayer.

     Heaven is the ideal. We dream of heaven as that place where God’s will is done, period!

      11Give us our food for today. 12Forgive us for doing wrong, as we forgive others.

In our King James style, “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

     This petition, prayed with expectation, asks God to meet our basic needs. We know the nature of what God is to provide. God creates us all with the expectation of having basic subsistence. Many people (hopefully, most or all people) believe that being human is the only requirement to receive what is basic for survival. Food, water, shelter, clothing, health care, and safety from external threats are so basic that many people believe that God expects that society will see that they are available. I believe that God intends that all people have these blessings, even the unjust and unrighteous.

     Yet, the world is full of children and adults who are starving or in harm’s way caused by war. In our own well-blessed country, a significant number of people live in poverty, lacking some of the basics. We struggle to put together a health system that adequately cares for all people in our country.

     When we ask God for our daily bread (provision of all our basic needs), we should be prepared to listen when God tells us to help provide the basics to all our neighbors, using some of the blessings we, and our nation as a whole, have received. Remember, God has made us stewards, not owners.

     Surely many disagree with me, but I think God’s care for the poor and widows and orphans is so clearly and repeatedly announced in the scriptures that it is time to quit speaking about the poor in terms like “welfare queens” and “they need to earn these things.” Caring for the poor may not be popular in a society where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, but being a human being is the only requirement for receiving the basic blessings from God.

     The next phrase may not be any easier to deal with. Our trespasses are forgiven because we forgive others their trespasses against us. We put it on the line with God. Lying to God is the epitome of wrongdoing. If we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we say that we do forgive the trespasses of others. If you are anything like me, in offering frequent prayers to God, there better be a healthy dose of “C” for confession. I do not do a good job of forgiving others when they wrong me. And I need to acknowledge that to God on a regular basis, and, with God’s help, try to make things right with those other persons.

     Only in that context should we expect the blessing part of this prayer—God’s forgiveness of our sins.


First identify, then acknowledge, then offer a prayer of confession for your current sins and ask God’s forgiveness. If this isn’t your current regular practice, change your habits to include this. In our prayers we should continue to ask God to guide us all in being a blessing for all of humanity, especially the poor in our midst.

Continue on to the next lesson on A DAILY ON-LINE LENTEN STUDY GUIDE: 36 by clicking on: A Daily Online Lenten Study Guide: Day 36


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Monte and I welcome any comments you might have on the Lenten posts. Use the COMMENT box below to respond. For details on the COMMENT CONTEST click on:



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1 Comment »

  1. good site for online charity

    Comment by Search For Care — March 29, 2010 @ 2:19 pm | Reply

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