Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lifeshapes - the Hexagon - prayer

If I am going to be honest prayer is the thing that I have struggled most with in the following Jesus thing.
It seems so unnatural to me.
I grew up in a Catholic church that prayed very formal prayers
But I am also a person who is easily distracted.
I want to pray but knowing how to pray in a way that honors God and a way that I don’t fall asleep is often difficult for me.
You couple that with the fact I like to be around people – I like to talk and it has felt some days like prayer is impossibility

But if we are to fulfill our life purpose if we are to have relationship with God then it’s a discipline we all need.
Life shapes 6 is a not only a reminder to pray but also a shape to help us pray, as we run our minds over each side we say a way of praying…
Now Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer,
As I said a few weeks back Rabbi’s like Jesus modeled behavior for their disciples to follow
Rabbinical teaching – the goal is to be come like the rabbi – imitation – you are just like your rabbi – a Mini Me
They ate - you ate
They sleep – you sleep
They walk with a limp – you walk with a limp
Failure resulted in a clip round the ear
You become a photocopy of the person you are following
How you learn is by doing things like they did
Basically if you were a follower of a Rabbi you learnt through imitation
So when the disciples ask Lord teach us to pray
They’ve seen Jesus doing it and now there ready to give this thing a shot too
The words of the Lord’s Prayer are familiar to most of us – possibly too familiar,
One of the problems is with written prayers is that unless you stop occasionally to think about what your saying you end up just repeating something back by wrote – like learning the times table. But prayer is not supposed to be mechanical it’s a cry to God, it’s the human spirit speaking to God via the Holy Spirit
So if you have never stopped to think about what you are saying then here is a good opportunity to do that.
But it’s also an opportunity to see what this prayer they can teach us about prayer in general
The Hexagon helps us to remember the six simple phrases of the Lord’s Prayer and how we can apply them to every minute of every day.
And in doing that not only do we learn how to pray but also to align our lives with God’s will for us.• The Father’s Character – “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name”
This is the ultimate oxymoron.
On one hand we have Jesus telling us that we can call God Father
For some this is a problem – If he is anything like my Father he must be a real Bastard
Well that is not what Jesus means – in the Aramaic the word he uses is literally Daddy – Tender, caring, Jesus is saying “This God, you can actually call him DAD.”
But at the same time this God who we can call Father is in Heaven “up there somewhere’
On one hand he is close and on the other far away, removed.
What do we do with this?

I think it works like this;
Jesus starts this prayer off be welcoming us into the court of the King
– not just any King but the king of the universe
– and in prayer you can sit on his knee and whisper what you want to pray about in his ear.

• The Father’s Kingdom – “Your kingdom come, your will be done”
We don’t use the language of Kingdom much in the 21st Century; it’s kind of been lost in the political shift from Kings and Queens to prime ministers and Presidents.
Basically a King would rule over a region and be responsible for the care of that region – in saying this we are saying – we want God’s rule to be established on earth as it is in Heaven – Why?
– because God is a good ruler, he looks after his people,
– because God is just he is fair to us
– because God is merciful, he doesn’t treat us like we deserve to be treated

But we are also recognizing we want to be part of the family business too.
In calling God Dad, it’s like we’ve been adopted into his family.
Not just any family but the family of a King – his concerns then become our concerns
– the things that effect him effect us
– His cry for justice becomes ours too
– His desire for peace becomes ours
So where God rules in our lives, his kingdom exists on earth as in heaven
We are aligning our selves with the God who is our Father
So we pray for this kingdom to be established but because we are part of the family firm we work for it too
• The Father’s Provision – “Give us today our daily bread”
I think we all recognize the fact we have needs – health, shelter, food, warmth, emotional etc... this is our daily bread
In prayer we are pulling ourselves up to the father’s table and saying ‘feed me’.
He wants us to be there so he created us to have needs but also to see him as the ultimate provider of those needs – Every good thing comes from our heavenly Father.
Our needs ensure that we keep coming back to him – that we don’t forget him – that we realize our dependence on him.
God will provide us with what we need -
• The Father’s Forgiveness – “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”
– the problem is that so often our needs turn into greed’s, the human condition is such that we always want more.
If God our heavenly Daddy is our provider than surely we should have enough shouldn’t we? Not too much so that we become greedy, and not too little that we starve.
If we become greedy we overstep our boundaries – trespass as the old words of this prayer used to say.
We take what isn’t ours
We go places we shouldn’t go
And at the same time if we do it we can guarantee others will do it to us too.
So, just as we ask God to forgive us, we also need to forgive others.
Look at it like this when we sin we not only sin against other people, but we sin against God by saying what you gave me is not enough – I want more.
We hurt others, we hurt our heavenly Daddy.
While the Fathers forgiveness is never ending, it’s conditional on being willing to forgive others...
• The Father’s Guidance – “Lead us not into temptation”
Up until now the prayer has been focused on God and our relationships with others around us.
To use the language of the Triangle
– we’ve done the UP stuff
– and we’ve prayed about the IN stuff.
– Now the prayer also focuses’ us on the OUT Stuff.

Within the Hexagon is a triangle

So the Prayer naturally leads us into dealing with our going out into the world with God’s Message.
What we are saying here in these last two sections - that we are asking for God’s protection as we go out and do his work, as we advance his kingdom.
Give us the strength to be in the world but not of the world
Help out light to shine…
• The Father’s Protection –“But deliver us from the evil one”
But were also recognizing that we have an enemy it’s not just us being led astray that we need to worry about, but when we try to establish God’s Kingdom we are undermining the Kingdom of Satan – our enemy
The Enemy that comes to steal and destroy.

So we need to be guided around temptation but we also need to be kept safe from attacks as we do what God would have us do…

Pray with Pauses –
Pray a Clause daily – on the seventh day rest – Anglican Prayer Book uses this form
Cyclical prayer – where each line is developed by the next
If Our Father is in heaven
Then his Kingdom shall come
And he will give us what we need – because in his Kingdom there is no want
And our debts will be washed away – because in his kingdom there is forgiveness
And if we walk in God’s grace and forgiveness which comes from his Kingdom being established then we need to freely forgive others
And we know that God’s Kingdom is dependant on his rule in our lives so we need protection from taking short cuts and temporary fixes and from evil that would seek to discredit and put the kingdom’s rule in our lives down
You can also just pray it as it is – sometimes we don’t have the words to say – the weight of the world seems too much to bare – but here are words of life, freedom, new beginnings, and protection


Steve Caruso said...

"Well that is not what Jesus means – in the Aramaic the word he uses is literally Daddy – Tender, caring, Jesus is saying “This God, you can actually call him DAD.”"

That "abba" means "daddy" is a very common myth that has been circulating about the Aramaic language for quite some time now. Ironically, it often comes up around Father's Day, too. :-)

I've gone over it in detail here on my blog:

Abba Isn't Daddy - The Traditional Aramaic Father's Day Discussion

In essence, "abba" is a form that is used by anyone (from child to adult) to refer to their father in a respectful manner. We also see that in the Greek of the New Testament, where "abba" is mentioned, the Greek doesn't translate it as the Greek word for "daddy" ("pappas"), but as "'the' father" ("ho pater").

All connections to the word as "baby-speak" are simply outdated, and the individual who first proposed this almost immediately recanted it upon further examination.

However, the myth lives on. :-)

Hope this helps,
Steve Caruso
Translator, Aramaic Designs
Author, The Aramaic Blog

Michael Treston said...

Yes i was aware of this argument both for and against, but even in the Aramaic i think the conclcuions over usage point more towards an intimate understanding than simply Father.

BTW do you trawl blog sites for references to Abba and Father??? if so i saw a great abba tribute band last week - only kidding
God Bless

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