August 2013

The Transcendent Power of the Lord’s Prayer

“Our Father . . . give us . . . forgive us . . .lead us . . .deliver us.”

This past week I was one of approximately 150 unlikely people drawn together by a mutual desire to support the family of a dear saint who suffered an untimely death. At such times there is an understandable awkwardness, in part due to the diversity of those in attendance and the fact that many, although they knew the deceased, do not know one another. When we gathered in the funeral home chapel, and the service proceeded, as is often the case, one could hear a pin drop save for the voice of the pastor conducting the service.

Toward the end of the service, the pastor invited the congregation to stand and join her in the saying the Lord’s Prayer. I must say, given the mix of people in the room, the wide age span, obvious diversity of religious backgrounds and solemnity permeating the room, I did not expect much response – perhaps at best a perfunctory mumbling recitation by a few who knew the prayer and professed a Christian faith. I was genuinely and pleasantly caught off guard. The entire gathering, almost with gusto, prayed the entire prayer from memory without a hitch and the volume and deep resonance of the blended voices filled the room. It was as if the lid of a pressure cooker had been taken off releasing a pent up expression of corporate faith and love. The atmosphere in the room changed with the confession of that timeless prayer. In some mysterious way it bound everyone together in a shared grief for the passing of a loved one and the hope of eternity and the resurrection. It was, at least for me, a holy moment worth treasuring and meditating upon.

Why, in what is increasingly being called a non-Christian culture, does the Lord’s Prayer still have such a wide base appeal and effect? There are probably a number of reasons that could be cited. I will limit my attempts to answer this question to two.

First the Lord’s Prayer reveals some very compelling qualities about the God to whom Jesus was instructing us to pray.

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4 Things I am (Re)Learning about Prayer

Those of you who read this blog with any regularity have probably noticed that most of my posts over the past months have been on the same topic. You may have been wondering what happened to Tom? His blogs used to be more interesting, now all he talks about is prayer. . . . boring!

Well back on March 16, nearly five months ago now, something did happen. That morning when I was meditating on Jesus’ words “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations” (Mark 11:17) I felt the Lord speak to me as clearly as I have ever heard Him. From deep within my spirit the Holy Spirit gave me this simple repetitive prayer for myself: “Make me a house of prayer. Make me a house of prayer. Make me a house of prayer . . . .”

Since the Bible calls each individual believer in Christ a temple of the Holy Spirit I had a stark realization. Before the Church, big “C”, and churches, little “c”, can become a house of prayer, each believer must first become a house of prayer. And that includes me! I have been praying this prayer daily ever since.

It has had a marked effect upon my life. The more I have prayed it, the more the desire to pray has grown within me leading to a more consistent and deeper prayer life than I have ever experienced. In the process I am discovering that my perspective and understanding of prayer are undergoing a subtle transformation.

Here are four things I am seeing with greater clarity:

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The Grace of Yielding

We returned last week from a two week vacation out West where we visited Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks and made the trek up to Banff National Park in Canada. We drove over four thousand miles in the process. The Rockies were as stunning to the senses as I remembered them from visits in years gone by. But in contrast, the driving habits of those we met on the road rather defied my sensibilities. It didn’t seem to matter where we were. Even when passing through the Dakotas and amongst our friendly neighbors to the North, I swear the common courtesy of using a turn signal and yielding for lane changes have all but gone the way of the buffalo. Why is Western common courtesy nearly extinct? I guess it stands to reason that you cannot expect people who don’t use their turn signals to bother honoring those who do. Maybe it has something to do with the sparsely populated wide open spaces and people being accustomed to driving their broncos with no one else around.

At any rate, it gave me new appreciation for how vital it is to possess and exercise the grace of yielding in our everyday lives. Yielding is a grace because it a gift of unmerited favor extended to another.

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Why pray? Does it make a difference?

The salient question “Why pray?” though not unfamiliar to a rational non-religious person, has also not surprisingly crossed the minds or slipped from the lips of a believer. Truth be told, because prayer in a measure is cloaked in mystery there are times when even the most devout believer can question its efficacy if not its necessity.

It is therefore worth documenting, from the life and teaching of Jesus, both for believer and unbeliever alike, the three main reasons why prayer is a non-negotiable necessity. Why pray? – here’s the answer.

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