Thursday, September 21, 2023

The Lord’s Prayer

 The Lord’s Prayer

The Lord's Prayer is an intricately laced thread of the Christian fabric, and it is a

traditional prayer that unites all Christian denominations both, Orthodox and Catholic, and Protestant and Non-Denominational. The Lord's Prayer can be found in both Matthew chapter 6 and Luke chapter 11, and was a response to a question posed by one of the Disciples, "Lord, how do we pray?" As a child, I can recall learning this prayer, and reciting it on many occasions, from Christmas to Easter and other youth productions and programs throughout the years of my youth. However, as child, I did not appreciate the simplicity and magnitude of this very short, yet powerful prayer. In fact, I truly despised the feeling of being forced to stand up in front of an entire church, filled with both my peers, and strangers, and I don’t know which one was worse, my peers or the strangers. Recalling the numerous instances in which I had been pushed and prodded into reciting the Lord's Prayer, and other verses, and it felt like torture, 
"in my own mind anyway;” however, it was these events that instilled in me, the knowledge of Jesus Christ, as our Lord and Savior, God the Father and Creator, and the Power of the Holy Spirit that resided within us all those years ago, and for this, I am so very grateful. 

(The Youth and I of EBC Circa 1985?)

The life lessons of my youth, especially those five simple verses included within the Lord’s Prayer, and the many others I was required to learn and declare before the entire congregation have played a pivotal role in placing within my heart, soul, and spirit, the foundations of Sanctification, Faith, and Prayer. These three roots, Sanctification, Faith, and Prayer have given me, the foreknowledge and strength to return to my faith in God when my world began to cave in and collapse around me just a few short years ago. In 2013 both my health, and my marriage began to crumble, and fall apart, as I laid down, paralyzed from the waist down, day after day. It would be several weeks, in fact, it would be five long months that I suffered in serious pain while in the hospital, five long aggravating months strapped to a bed, not able to move. During this time, I had a lot of time to think, to cry, to doubt, and to pray, and it was that last one, Prayer, that carried me through those very difficult times; yet, not just then, but even now, to this day prayer carries me through the darkest nights, the deepest valleys, and through the shadows of death.

 Although the entirety of The Lord's Prayer is poignant and beautiful, I would like to look a little more closely at one particular verse regarding Forgiveness, and how we should forgive others: here it is below,

Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors...

Some of you may be asking yourselves, "why is this verse so important?" And that’s a great question indeed. As we continue to read, we soon find the answer...

Matthew 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses...

The answer is found here, simple and plain for all to see, if we do not forgive others for their actions or what we perceive as their wrongdoings, our Father in Heaven will not forgive us of our own sins, shortcomings, and mistakes, and that my friends is quite a scary thought.

Recently, I was asked how I make peace with individuals who “I once perceived” as my enemies, and my answer was simply this. I believe that every word within the pages of the Holy Bible is in fact the Words of God; therefore, I must take seriously every word I read there within. Now, as I read throughout the Bible, it has become quite clear that Jesus Christ was a man of Love, Faith, and Forgiveness, and as the example sent to earth for us to emulate, I must strive to love those around me, those who have wronged me, and in many cases I must learn to forgive myself as well. 

As the verses above detail, failure to forgive will leave you unforgiven, and that's simply not a risk I'm willing to take, and neither should you. And so, my prayer for you today is that sometime soon, you will find it within your heart to forgive those who have wronged you and more importantly, you must forgive yourself. Often, it is more difficult to forgive ourselves than it is to forgive others. Therefore, God has given us some reassurances that should make it a little easier to do so: first, according to Psalm 103:12, God has cast our sins as far as the east is from the west, and He shall remember them no more. Moreover, in John 8:10-12, Jesus declares that He has not come to condemn us, but to set us free, that we may go forth, and sin no more. Similarly, in John 3:17, Jesus declares that He was sent into the world, not to condemn the world, but that through Him, the world might be saved; however, this process all begins, and ends with forgiveness and prayer.

And finally, one last thing, it has been my experience that many individuals will tell me that they do not know how to pray, and that’s ok, why? Because Jesus Himself has left us an example, read it, learn it, and use it as the basis of your own prayers, and you will soon find that prayer becomes easier and easier each and every day.



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