Maybe you’ve heard the quite right harangue about the corporate nature of the Lord’s Prayer. Even said in private, it assumes our connection to brothers and sisters in Christ.
But might we also open ourselves to awareness that we are praying it with Christ the Lord, and he with us by the Holy Spirit?
Consider the familiar prayer with awareness of the one who taught it to us.
Our Father: The Father we address is Jesus’ Father in heaven. We pray as brothers and sisters in the church but also as brothers and sisters of Christ, sons and daughters of the heavenly Father. And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:49-50 ESV)
who art in heaven: Jesus assumed our mortal nature with its suffering and limits. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He had to go off to find quiet places to pray because the flesh was a hindrance to the perfect intimacy of Father, Son and Spirit enjoyed in heaven. Jesus knows our struggle to pray through our confusions and distractions to an unseen Father, and prays for and with us.
hallowed be thy name: Not “Praise to you, Zug,” but “Holy is the name that we can’t speak.” It is praise to the God we now see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now … in part; then … fully (1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV). As Jesus’ brothers and sisters, we can huddle with him as he addresses our Father. It’s almost cute when you think about it, as we give our earnest baby talk efforts alongside our brother’s perfect prayer.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven: Suffering in the flesh, offering compassion and even tears for our fallen race, Jesus longed for the completion of his earthly ministry. He knows the awful distance between heaven and earth, and his is the passionate heart awaiting their reunion for eternal joy. Do our hearts beat with his as we offer this petition?
Give us this day our daily bread: Jesus knows how our flesh multiplies demands, and the demands amplify our prideful desire to “have it all.” He teaches us to keep a short list of have-to-haves, that we might lift our sight to greater blessings that are already prepared for us as gifts. Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (Matthew 6:25 ESV) And he teaches this as one who was famished in the desert and had no place to call home on earth.
and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us: Jesus doesn’t need to offer the petition, because he is without sin. He gives it to us to pray to help us grow to maturity in the full stature of Christ, with our sins erased by his cross. He ensures that he will be the measure of our transformation, teaching us to forgive even those who afflict us, as he did from the cross.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: Jesus ends our prayer where he started his earthly ministry, facing the temptations of the evil one. Having confronted the reality of the tempter, Jesus received the ministrations of angels and went forward to preach his Good News. As traditional worship ends with a launch into the mission field – Go in peace to love and serve the Lord; Let us go forth in the name of Christ – Jesus brings us in prayer to a perpetual beginning. We ask the divine help that Jesus received so that we can go and share in the work that Jesus is doing.