Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
Historically this prayer made a lot of sense, it is the prayer for the disciples of Jesus in their context… yet though Scripture is not written to us it written for us. The time of trial was coming increasingly in their context and would reach a climax in the decades that were to follow their context, but for us?
Many Bibles translate the word as ‘temptation’ and that is probably included under this wider term of ‘trial’. (Likewise ‘the evil one’ is a broad term and can mean ‘evil one’ or ‘evil hour’ or even simply ‘evil’.) Trials come, life is not a straight line, but if we are proud of heart to think that whatever comes we will make it through – the Peter attitude of ‘even if all the others don’t make it you can count on me’ – we are likely to find that we are experiencing battles we really did not need to fight.
I love the practicality of Scripture. Don’t pray for difficulties… pray for peace… each day has enough trouble in it… And here comes a humble request in this prayer, indicating a positioning of ‘I am not so smart as to make it through regardless, so make the path for me one I can really handle’, and we know that if we pray in that way we will discover that ‘there is no temptation that we cannot bear’. (Imagine if Judas had prayed that prayer… no money bag given to him, no deal with the Jewish leaders for money…)
A profound prayer… a kind of summary of ‘all kinds of praying’. Some parts will appeal more than others. If we think about how we pray we will probably find that we resonate with some lines more than others. I am not great at intimacy, nor at the need to focus on today, and with an unhealthy element of arrogance am somewhat vulnerable to the cock crowing twice.
And if prayer is as much to do with life positioning as it has to do with what comes out of our mouths, there is a lot I need to give attention to. ‘With all kinds of prayers pray’. My way is OK and part of the ‘all kinds’… but I have to acknowledge it does not say ‘with one kind of prayer pray’. Ah well, just one more reminder that I have a way to go!