Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Praying "the Jesus Creed" (part two)

"The Lord's Prayer" (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4) seems to be inherently public, communal (Michael Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew), liturgical (R.T. France, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: Matthew) and intimate (family oriented) in nature.

Jesus taught a variation of this prayer to his disciples in answer to their request to teach them to pray (maybe the first time they heard him speak of it?), after having witnessed his own praying to his Father. So this prayer can certainly be prayed in private. But it is addressed to disciples (I include us today) in plural pronouns and the prayer itself is about "us", not just "me". That together, with the fact that this prayer seems patterned after the Jewish liturgical prayer called the Kaddish (Scot McKnight: The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others) seems to me to indicate that this prayer is to be done in public together as "the community of Jesus".

This prayer goes back to "the Jesus Creed". We're to love God with our all, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. And the prayer Jesus taught falls out like that. Again, like Jesus' changing of Shema to add love of others to love of God (Mark 12:29-31) (Scot McKnight) we see that this prayer consists of petitions concerning love to God and love to our brothers and sisters in the community of Jesus.

Two thoughts I'd like for us to consider here. Who are we praying to? And what does that mean about us?

Jesus taught us to pray: "Our Father"/"Father". Jesus certainly used other titles when addressing God or referring to God, in keeping with the Jewish practice of his day (example: Matthew 11:25 though even here he includes "Father"; Matthew 26:64; 27:46). But overwhelmingly he used pater, and on occasion abba both translated into our language "Father", when praying or referring to God. This emphasis is unique to Jesus up to that time in Scripture. And when we pray, we're to refer to God as "Father".

Yes God is holy, to be held in awe, a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:28,29). But as Jesus taught us we're to look at God and approach him as Father. Jesus as our Brother (Hebrews 2:11-12). Certainly this does not not exclude Jesus as Lord which is always true, but not our focus here. The Spirit is our Advocate, or Helper in all of this (John 14-16).

Maybe God does seem distant to us many times, or especially at certain times and points in our lives. But in Jesus we are to address God as Father. This means we are his children. And as his children we are family together. For better or for worse. God wouldn't let it be any other way.

Do we see God as "our Father" and Jesus as "our Brother"? Do we see each other as brothers and sisters in Jesus, as God's very own family? This is at the heart of this prayer that we are to pray. And the prayer is surely meant to be for us a powerful reminder and enactment so as to help establish this among us.


Lukas McKnight said...

I've certainly felt more power and connection and its being a reminder since I've been praying it daily as a part of Celtic Daily Prayer. Good stuff.

Scot McKnight said...

The notion that Jesus is our "elder" brother when we pray the Lord's Prayer is a dynamic idea -- he prays it with us, he leads us to say it, and whenever we pray it, he is there with us leading us. Very good idea; never thought about it this way.

And you now have three McKnights reading your blog -- Luke, Kris and I.

Ted Gossard said...

Lukas, I love the Celtic prayers too. Though I'm a novice in that. Thanks for your thoughts and sharing here.

Scot, Thanks for your thoughts fleshing out from the post's words a point I didn't see. Thanks so much.

And for you three McKnights to be reading this blog; I consider that a great blessing, not to mention making my palms a bit sweaty. Thanks much.

Janet & Seth said...

Ted, Ha! I finally found you! Lois and I were discussing how much we missed your brain and your heart. I have been reading many of the same blogs as you and noticing your name in the comments. How wonderful it is that you are doing this now. Really want to get together with you and Deb and chat sometime. I know Lois would as well. Looking forward to reading more!


Ted Gossard said...

Wow Janet! It's great to hear from you. We'll have to get together with you and Seth. If you don't mind a pretty simple fellow. I really prep well for this blogging. You can tell that from some of my off the wall comments.

Yeah, I like to go to Lois' blog and see what creative thoughts she comes up with. She is another good free thinker, in a good way of course.

Ted Gossard said...

...another good free thinker.

I was thinking of you Janet and Seth. Ha.

Ted Gossard said...

Well really I guess I would be considered a free thinker and a free spirit, at least by some. I just think we have that freedom to explore and "think outside the box". I think God is with us as his children in these endeavors and that this is only, after all, a part of the rich creativity he has put in each of us.