Lord’s Prayer: Give Us This Day
Give us this day…
(Gathering the Moment at Hand)
Up to this point in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus has been laying a foundation—one that establishes our relationship to God and his creation. When we recite the beginning of the prayer, we are thus engaging in an act of grounding, reminding ourselves that at the core of our existence we remain rooted in Christ.1
With the foundation complete, Jesus moves on to what many of us think is the business of prayer: asking for things. But as we mentioned in Chapter 2, prayer isn’t about asking for special favors. In fact, it isn’t even about “asking” at all—since, as Jesus says, God already knows what we need before we ask him.2 So what is prayer about? The simplest answer is that it is about gathering and release.
When we think about gathering and Christ, the first image that comes to mind is probably the shepherd. Many of us see Jesus as the “Good Shepherd”3 gathering his lost flock back within the fold of his love. This image is popular because Jesus often used sheep and shepherds as metaphors when he taught. He described those who deliver the gospel of Christ as lambs among wolves,4 and those without Christ’s guidance as sheep without a shepherd.5 He also warned us of embracing false teachers who come in the guise of innocent sheep but have sinister hidden agendas.6
What we don’t usually think about when contemplating gathering is the story of the prodigal son. We talked earlier about how this parable reveals the will of God as a matter of choice. But when we turn our attention to the son, and view the story through his eyes, the parable reveals a different lesson—which is the wonderful thing about parables: like crystals, they reflect new light (insight) as we turn them.
When the young man seeks his inheritance from his father, he doesn’t plead for it. Instead, he speaks with authority: “Father, give me my share of the inheritance.” (A man had two sons; 12 And the younger of them said to his father: ‘Father, give me my share of the inheritance.’ So the father divided the property between them. – Luke 15:11-12)) We often overlook that fact. But it is an important one. Because it shows that the son is claiming ownership over something that he believes is rightfully his.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus also speaks with “authority”,7 and says that when we speak in such a way, our Father will dutifully respond. In fact, he claims that God will grant us anything:8 that the dead will rise,9 and mountains move at our command, if we but have the faith of a mustard–seed10 and command it in his name.
This teaching has caused a lot of confusion over the years. Some Christians have taken it at face value and, because of that, acted irresponsibly—such as recklessly barring medical treatment to loved ones (believing that they could heal them through faith alone). Others have disregarded the whole moving mountains thing as just Jesus getting a little carried away with his metaphors. But if we reflect on the teaching a little longer, the true Word begins to emerge.
Let’s begin our reflections by recalling that…
The Lord’s Prayer. To continue reading, click on page 2 at the bottom.
- By the seed which was sown on the good ground is meant the receivers who hear the message and understand it, yielding a return, sometimes one hundred, sometimes sixty, sometimes thirty fold. – Matthew 13:23 [↩]
- When praying, do not repeat the same words over and over again, as is done by the Gentiles, who think that by using many words they will obtain a hearing. 8 Do not imitate them; for God, your Father, knows what you need before you ask him. – Matthew 6:7-8 [↩]
- I am the good shepherd; and I know my sheep, and my sheep know me. – John 10:14 [↩]
- Now, go. Remember, I am sending you out as my messengers like lambs among wolves. – Luke 10:3 [↩]
- On getting out of the boat, Jesus saw a great crowd, and his heart was moved at the sight of them, because they were ‘like sheep without a shepherd’. – Mark 6:34 [↩]
- Beware of false teachers: those who come to you in the guise of sheep, but at heart they are ravenous wolves. – Matthew 7:15 [↩]
- On the next Sabbath, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, for he taught them like one who had authority, and not like the teachers of the law. – Mark 1:21-22 [↩]
- Whatever you ask for in your prayers will, if you have faith, be granted you.” Matthew 21:22 [↩]
- Even now, I know that God will grant you whatever you ask him.” 23 “Your brother shall rise to life,” said Jesus. – John 11:23 [↩]
- “For, I tell you, if your faith were only like a mustard-seed, you could say to this mountain ‘Move from this place to that!’ and it would be moved; and nothing would be impossible to you. – Matthew 17:20 [↩]