Lent 2017 March 19 The Lord’s Prayer: Introduction

Our Father in heaven.  What is this? or What does this mean?

With these words God wants to attract us, so that we come to believe he is truly our Father and we are truly his children, in order that we may ask him boldly and with complete confidence, just as loving children ask their loving father.

To Ponder

This is my Father’s world, and to my list’ning ears all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.  This is my Father’s world; I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; his hand the wonders wrought.  – “This Is My Father’s World”

Deeply loved

The hymn, “This Is My Father’s World” praises our heavenly Father and reminds us that we are a part of the creation. We recall that God is the ruler of the universe, of sea and sky and of all the living creatures of the world.   God also knows us personally and intimately and is concerned for our well-being.  They hymn echoes this idea when we sing the words “he speaks to me everywhere.”  This is what Martin Luther had in mind when he taught the Lord’s Prayer.   He wanted the church to understand that we are deeply loved and cared for by our heavenly Father.   We can approach the Father in heaven as a small child who trusts her parents for every good thing, for food and clothing and special care when we are ill or troubled.   He wanted us to approach the Father boldly with complete confidence and trust.  He could encourage us to do this because of his own experience during difficult times.   


Just as Jesus called his daddy “Abba” so do I call you “papa.”  Speak to me this day through the beauty of your creation.  Amen.

Citation:  Evangelical Lutheran Worship, hymn no. 824. Augsburg Fortress, 2006.

March 20  The First Petition

Hallowed be your name.

What is this? Or What does this mean?

It is true that God’s name is holy in itself, but we ask in this prayer that it may also become holy in and among us.

How does this come about?

Whenever the word of God is taught clearly and purely and we, as God’s children, also live holy lives according to it.  To this end help us, dear Father in heaven!  However, whoever teaches and lives otherwise than the word of God teaches, dishonors the name of God among us.  Preserve us from this, heavenly Father!

To Ponder

Holy, holy, holy, my heart, my heart adores you, my heart is glad to say the words:  You are holy God.  Santo, santo, santo, mi corazón te adora, mi corazón te saber decir:  Santo eres Señor – “Holy, Holy, Holy, Santo, Santo, Santo

Set Apart for Love

Argentina has many traditional hymns.  We like to sing a popular one in both English and Spanish in many of our seminary chapel services.   We sing it during communion because it reminds us of the holiness of our God.  To be holy does not mean that we cannot approach God.  It means that the one we know as the ancient of days is eternal and worthy of our deep respect and love.  The creator of all that exists deserves our reverence and adoration.  This song praises, honors and blesses the name of the one we love.   The words remind us that we are called to lead lives that reflect this character and way of being in the world.  To be holy means we are set apart for works of mercy and justice in the world.  Relating justly and honorably with all people is a value we cherish and teach.  Anything less is to harm our neighbor who is created in the image and likeness of God.  We are set apart for right action in the world.   The scriptures provide a roadmap for right action and right living.  We pray that we might live faithful lives of service so that we may honor the name of the holy one.    


Sanctify me, O Lord, for your service.  Amen.

Citation: Evangelical Lutheran Worship, hymn no. 473, Augsburg Fortress, 2006.

March 21 The Second Petition

Your kingdom come.

What is this: or What does this mean?

In fact, God’s kingdom comes on its own without our prayer, but we ask in this prayer that it may also come to us.

How does this come about?

Whenever our heavenly Father gives us his Holy Spirit, so that through the Holy Spirit’s grace we believe God’s holy word and live godly lives here in time and hereafter in eternity.

To Ponder

We believe in the Reign of God – the day of the Great Fiesta when all the colors of creation will form a harmonious rainbow, when all peoples will join in joyful banquet, when all tongues of the universe will sing the same song.  –Dr. Justo Gonzalez, “A Hispanic Creed”

The Day of the Great Fiesta

Dr. Justo Gonzalez refers to the kingdom of God as a reign or rule when all of the creation will be in harmony.  In his popular creed he invites us to believe that in this reign everyone is invited and no one is left out.  He shares Martin Luther’s confidence that the rule of God comes to us as a gift of grace and joy.  We see the signs of its coming at our baptism when we receive the Holy Spirit and the assurance that we belong to the family of God.   We see it when the church embraces us with hospitality and together we sing songs of praise that fill our hearts.  We see it when we confess our faith and promise to lead lives of goodwill towards everyone.  Because we seek to do the will of God we pray that the Holy Spirit will use our spiritual gifts and talents to create a world where all people will have their needs met and where everyone will share in the bounty of God’s grace.  We pray that we may play a part in making this new creation a fiesta for everyone to enjoy and celebrate the goodness of God!  


Come, Holy Spirit, and renew the whole creation! Amen.

Citation:  “A Hispanic Creed, From Mil Voces para Celebrar:  Himnario Metodista, p. 70 (Abingdon Press, 1996).

Wed, March 22  The Third Petition

Your will be done on earth as in heaven.

What is this? Or What does this mean?

In fact, God’s good and gracious will comes about without our prayer, but we ask in this prayer that it may also come about in and among us.

To Ponder

When we pray that God’s will be done on earth as in heaven, we acknowledge our obedience to the divine authority.  The acknowledging of the desire that God’s will be done on earth where we are implies, by contrast, that our will is not the one to govern our lives on earth:  “Your will be done.”  Jesus teaches us to pray acknowledging that God’s will is to be supreme over our human will. –Dr. Alicia Vargas, “The Prayer that Jesus Taught Us:  A Relational and Communal Life”

Your will be done

Have you looked up to the heavens and wondered what the purpose of your life might be?  You may have asked, why am I here?  Before I became a pastor I practiced law in south Texas. I thought I had found my calling in life.  It was a very fulfilling vocation.  I often sensed that some folks were looking for someone they could talk to about their problems.  I would pray with my clients and ask God to show them what they should do, what direction they should take.  When my pastor started insisting that I go to seminary I was a bit confused.  On one occasion he introduced me to the bishop who wrote to inform me that he was praying for me.  I started looking up to the heavens and asked for divine guidance.  After much prayer I decided that this must be the will of God and that God was asking me to trust that this was something I was called to do.  As I learned to let go of the work that I so enjoyed and to trust that God was leading me in a new direction, my prayer became, “Your will be done.” 


Help me to listen to your Spirit and trust your plan for my life.  Amen.

Citation:  The Lutheran, Vol., 28:12 (December, 2015), pp. 40-41.

Thursday, March 23 The Third Petition

How does this come about?

Whenever God breaks and hinders every evil scheme and will – as are present in the will of the devil, the world, and our flesh – that would not allow us to hallow God’s name and would prevent the coming of this kingdom, and instead whenever God strengthens us and keeps us steadfast in his word and in faith until the end of our lives.  This is God’s gracious and good will.

To Ponder

When asked what a person should do to reach holiness, St. Anthony said, “Become what you are;” the aim of spiritual warfare in life is to achieve just such a becoming. –James and Myfanwy Moran

Fight the Good Fight

The Reformer Martin Luther understood spiritual warfare.  He knew himself to be a baptized child of God worthy of heaven.  Others did not agree with him.  His struggle was so intense that he threw an inkwell at a wall in his room as if throwing it at the devil.  Luther struggled with the many voices that were trying to keep him from doing the will of God.   He made many enemies in his attempt to reform the church of his day.   Many did not agree with his interpretation of the scriptures.   Luther felt as if the whole world had turned against him.  He was trying to bring clarity to our relationship with God.   He believed that we could approach the holy one without fear and without having to work to get to heaven.  He felt that his fiercest enemies were the devil, the world and our flesh.  He wanted us to be on guard against them by knowing and obeying the word of God.  He teaches us that following the path of holiness means living according to the word and will of God.   


Lord, keep me faithful when tested by trials.  Amen.

Citation:  James and Myfanwy Moran, “The Battle for Person in the Heart,” The Inner Journey, Views from the Christian Tradition, edited by Lorraine Kisly, Morning Light Press, 2006, p. 101.

Mar 24 The Fourth Petition

Give us today our daily bread.

What is this?  or What does this mean?

In fact, God gives daily bread without our prayer, even to all evil people, but we ask in this prayer that God cause us to recognize what our daily bread is and to receive it with thanksgiving. 

To Ponder

What then does “daily bread” mean?

Everything included in the necessities and nourishment for our bodies, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, farm, fields, livestock, money, property, an upright spouse, upright children, upright members of the household, upright and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, decency, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.

Compartir el pan

Compartir el pan means to “share the bread” in Spanish.  My father and mother had a store in south Texas when I was growing up.   We sold many loaves of bread to many folks from both sides of the U.S. – Mexico border.   My parents taught me to treat everyone with respect.  That was their way of teaching me that everyone had dignity.   We sold much food in that store.  At times we would give folks a “pilón,” or extra portion.  That was our way of sharing and showing gratitude.   My mother would often ask me to take plates of food from her kitchen stove to the neighbors or to someone in need.   I have fond memories of those days when “compartir el pan” meant that I would take a portion of the food from our table and share it with our neighbors.  South Texas was farm country and often our farmer friends and ranchers would bring their produce to us as gift of the harvest. We were connected to each other and to the land in a way that revealed the goodness of God for all of the creation.   We were sustained by the land and the friendships that gave us life.


Grant me a hunger for just sharing that all may be filled. Amen. 

March 25 The Fifth Petition

Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. What is this or What does this mean?

We ask in this prayer that our heavenly Father would not regard our sins nor deny these petitions on their account, for we are worthy of nothing for which we ask, nor have we earned it.  Instead we ask that God would give us all things by grace, for we daily sin much and indeed deserve only punishment.  So, on the other hand, we, too, truly want to forgive heartily and to do good gladly to those who sin against us.

To Ponder

We know that in all creation only the human family has strayed.  We know that we are the ones who are divided and we are the ones who must come back together.  Teach us love, compassion, honor that we may heal the earth and heal each other. -Ojibway Prayer

Missing the Mark

The notion of sin as “missing the mark” comes from the ancient Greek sport of archery.  To miss the mark meant that the archer failed to hit a bull’s eye with his arrow. We miss the mark when we fail to see that we are all connected to God and to the creation.  We miss it when we act contrary to good judgment in our dealings with others.  Native Americans teach that we are all related and that what affects one affects all.  They have seen the creation spoiled by greed and misuse.  In their prayers they ask for the wisdom to heal that which has divided us.   They recognize that we have a responsibility to care for each other.  In the same way, Martin Luther wants us to recognize our dependence on God as the source of all that is good.  Our relationship with the sacred allows us to bring healing to a broken world.   We do this as we care for each other and for the world that God loves.


Let my prayer bring healing and unity to a broken world.  Amen.

Citation:  Steven McFadden, The Little Book of Native American Wisdom, Element Inc., Rockport, Ma., 1994, p. 13.  

March 26  The Sixth Petition

Save us from the time of trial.  What is this? Or What does this mean?

It is true that God tempts no one, but we ask in this prayer that God would preserve and keep us, so that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great and shameful sins, and that, although we may be attacked by them, we may finally prevail and gain the victory.

To Ponder

Deny me those gratifying invitations, those highly interesting contacts, that participation in the brilliant movements of our age, which I so often, at such risk, desire. –C.S. Lewis

Prayerful Resistance

Years ago I was a trial attorney.  As a public defender I prosecuted folks who had missed the mark in some serious way and had injured others by their deeds.  It was not an easy task and I often felt sorry for the way that folks fell into the trap of misguidance and misdirection.  Because they had failed to think seriously about the consequences of their actions they had failed to see the results that would lead some of them to prison.   They had been tempted by the lies of quick and easy money or self-gratification that would harm others.   They had been entrapped by their own evil schemes and now faced the courtroom drama that would determine their fate.  The judgment of a court can be harsh.   We too can be deceived.  All of us share a sinful instinct for self-centeredness.  C.S. Lewis understood this weakness.  He knew the allure of the false illusion.  He turned to prayer to keep him from selfish motives and self-deception.  We pray for strength to resist temptation.  


Help me not to be deceived, O Lord, on the day of trial.  Amen.

Citation:  C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, Fontana Books, London, 1974.

March 27 The Seventh Petition

And deliver us from evil.  What is this? Or What does this mean?

We ask in this prayer, as in a summary, that our Father in heaven may deliver us from all kinds of evil – affecting body or soul, property or reputation – and at last, when our final hour comes, may grant us a blessed end and take us by grace from this valley of tears to himself in heaven. 

To Ponder

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood. -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Sitting for Justice

The African American community has left us a treasure trove of spirituals.  These songs capture the human experience of the evil of slavery when many were silent and powerless.  The body, property and reputation did not belong to the slave.  The soul was theirs to keep in silence.   They sang their woes in the heat of the cotton fields.  We are still living the affects of this evil institution.  The legacy of racism is a direct result and continues to affect all of us.  It is a blight on our history.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  fought against it in the struggle for civil rights.  He joined forces with the seamstress Rosa Parks when she refused to surrender her seat on a bus.  They both shared a dream that all men and women are created equal.  They teach us that we condone evil when we refuse to question injustice.  We ask for the courage and the wisdom to combat the forces that would dehumanize anyone. We pray for a more just world where all will live with dignity.   


With Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., allow me to sit for justice and speak boldly against evil.  Amen.

Citation:  Quotations of Martin Luther King, Jr., Applewood Books, 2004, p. 8.

March 28 The Lord’s Prayer:  Conclusion

[For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever.] Amen.

What is this? Or What does this mean?

That I should be certain that such petitions are acceptable to and heard by our Father in heaven, for he himself commanded us to pray like this and has promised to hear us.  “Amen, amen” means “Yes, yes, it is going to come about just like this.”

To Ponder

Because you are the one in charge, and you have all the power, and the glory is all yours forever – which is just the way we want it! –David Willard

Power Talk

All power and glory belongs to the holy one who ushers in the reign of God with his life.  He gives us a dynamic witness of the power of God over sin, death and all evil.  Because of his triumph on the cross we too have a power story to give the church universal.  In many Hispanic Lutheran churches folks will stand up and share how God answered the prayers of the faithful during the week.  It may have been a healing of an illness or a life rescued from the ravages of addiction. Folks will speak of the power of God over their lives and how their prayers were answered.  Folks in the congregation will chime in with agreement like an echo.  In this way they are saying that God has all the power in the world and that all glory and honor belongs to the holy one.  God knows us and hears our prayers.   God want us to affirm that God is in control of our lives and answers prayer.  We make our power talk our agreement.  That is why we say, Amen! 


May the power talk of my life honor your holy name. Amen. Citation: Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, Rediscovering ourHidden Life in God (Harpers, San Francisco, 1998), p. 269.

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