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 [↩]
But very early on the first day of the week they went to the tomb, taking with them the spices that they had prepared. 2 They found that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb; 3 And, on going into it, they could not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were at a loss to account for this, all at once two men stood beside them, in dazzling clothing. 5 But, when in their fear the women bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them: “Why are you looking among the dead for him who is living?”
6 “He is not here; but he has risen. Remember how he spoke to you before he left Galilee: 7 How he said that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of wicked men, and be crucified, and rise again on the third day.” 8 Then they remembered the words of Jesus, 9 And, on returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.
10 There were Mary of Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary, the mother of James. The other women, too, spoke about this to the apostles. 11 What they said seemed to the apostles mere nonsense, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb. Stooping down he saw nothing but the linen wrappings, and he went away, wondering to himself what had taken place.
13 It happened that very day that two of the disciples were going to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 Talking together, as they went, about all that had just taken place. 15 While they were talking about these things and discussing them, Jesus himself came up and went on their way with them; 16 But their eyes were blinded so that they could not recognize him.
17 “What is this that you are saying to each other as you walk along?” Jesus asked. They stopped, with sad looks on their faces, 18 And then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, said to Jesus: “Are you staying by yourself in Jerusalem, that you have not heard of the things that have happened there within the last few days?”
19 “What things do you mean?” asked Jesus. “Why, about Jesus of Nazareth,” they answered, “who, in the eyes of God and all the people, was a prophet, whose power was felt in both his words and actions; 20 And how the chief priests and our leading men gave him up to be sentenced to death, and afterwards crucified him.”
21 “But we were hoping that he was the destined deliverer of Israel; yes, and besides all this, it is now three days since these things occurred. 22 And what is more, some of the women among us have greatly astonished us. They went to the tomb at daybreak.
23 And, not finding the body of Jesus there, came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels who told them that he was alive. 24 So some of our number went to the tomb and found everything just as the women had said; but they did not see Jesus.”
25 Then Jesus said to them: “O foolish men, slow to accept all that the prophets have said! 26 Was not the Christ bound to undergo this suffering before entering upon his glory?” 27 Then, beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them all through the scriptures the passages that referred to himself.
28 When they got near the village to which they were walking, Jesus appeared to be going further; 29 But they pressed him not to do so. “Stay with us,” they said, “for it is getting towards evening, and the sun is already low.” So Jesus went in to stay with them.
30 After he had taken his place at table with them, he took the bread and said the blessing, and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him; but he disappeared from their sight. 32 “How our hearts glowed,” the disciples said to each other, “while he was talking to us on the road, and when he explained the scriptures to us!”
33 Then they immediately got up and returned to Jerusalem, where they found the eleven and their companions all together, 34 Who told them that the Master had really risen, and had appeared to Simon. 35 So they also related what had happened during their walk, and how they had recognized Jesus at the breaking of the bread. 36 While they were still talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said: “Peace be with you.”
37 In their terror and alarm they thought they saw a spirit, 38 But Jesus said to them: “Why are you so startled? And why do doubts arise in you minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet, and you will know that it is I. Feel me, and look at me, for a spirit has not flesh and bones, as you see that I have.”
40 After saying this he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 While they were still unable to believe it all for their joy, and wondering if it were true, Jesus said to them: “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They handed him a piece of broiled fish, 43 And he took it and ate it before their eyes.
44 “This is what I told you,” he said, “when I was still with you—that everything that had been written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms, must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he enabled them to understand the meaning of the scriptures, saying to them: 46 “Scripture says that the Christ should suffer, and that he should rise again from the dead on the third day, 47 And that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed on his authority to all the nations—beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You yourselves are to be witnesses to all this.
49 And now I am myself about to send upon you that which my Father has promised. But you must remain in the city of Jerusalem until you have been invested with power from above.” 50 After this, Jesus led them out as far as Bethany, and there raised his hands and blessed them. 51 As he was in the act of blessing them, he left them and was carried up into heaven. 52 They bowed to the ground before him and returned to Jerusalem full of joy; 53 And they were constantly in the temple courts, blessing God.
To read Chapter 23 of the Gospel of Luke, please The Gospel of Luke – 23.
This Online New Testament Gospel of Luke is excerpted from the book The Living Hour: The Lord’s Prayer for Daily Life (with New Century Gospels). Including over 200 bookmarked citations from the canonical Gospels, this Progressive Christian book appeals to the Unitarian spirit at the heart of all faiths.
Challenge your perceptions on the Gospel of Christ, Jesus’s parables, and the Kingdom of God by purchasing The Lord’s Prayer book today. Produced by LivingHour.org, a Thailand-based small press dedicated to publishing unique Learning Easy Thai Language Books, as well as works on progressive spirituality.