Hopefully Devoted: May Your Name Be Kept Holy

Our Heavenly Father, may your name be kept holy (Matthew 6:9).

You must not misuse the name of the LORD your God (Exodus 20:7a).

This week I’ll start a series of messages on the Lord’s Prayer. We’ll primarily consider Matthew’s version. So our first message is on, “Our Heavenly Father, may your name be kept holy.”

Meditating on this reminded me of the commandment listed above. Typically we think of “not taking the Lord’s name in vain.” Which is what then became the meme above when I put the commandment into the positive (more “do this” than “don’t do that”).

So much can be unpacked in this one verse of teaching on prayer. I would lift up to you two helpful books for your consideration/edification/education. The first book is by Kenneth E. Bailey, “Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes.” And the other is “The Greatest Prayer,” by John Dominic Crossan.

For this post, however, I just want us to consider what it means to keep God’s name holy. When you were growing up did your parents ever admonish you to not do anything that would tarnish the family name? In some cultures this is more intensely adhered to, but there is that element of family honor to some degree across the board. And the consequences varied with the intensity.

Something that is holy is set apart, or set above all else. In the commandments, God already established that the people were to have no other gods before him, and no idols. How it became more focused on our verbal use of God’s name is subject for another time. Limiting how we honor God with merely our speech, clearly misses the full understanding of “keeping God’s name holy.”

Bottom line, keeping God’s name holy is about how we live. In all that we do, are we putting God first? Do we carry the name of God well? Is the fish on the back of our car giving other drivers a clear message who our co-pilot is? Does the cross that we wear or Jesus name on our t-shirt proclaim whose we are?

As we consider the Lord’s Prayer, let’s be sure to begin by evaluating our words, thoughts and deeds.

Message Meme: Follow Me

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One of the first instructions Jesus gave to those who would become his disciples: Follow me.

Follow. Follow my lead. Follow directions. Follow the leader.

We don’t always want to follow. Especially when the person we’re supposed to be following goes in a direction we’re not comfortable with, or a way that requires changing what we have planned.

Whether we’re dancing, working, learning, or trying to navigate a relationship, following  requires setting aside my way, my assumptions, and my leading. Following involves submission. The recognition that the one leading knows the way—or at least is in the position to tell me where to go or what to do.

Perhaps that’s why when the Disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he included this important principle in his teaching. Tucked there in the midst of words about forgiveness, provision, and honoring God, we are reminded to ask our Father to lead us.

And he will give us grace to follow.

 

 

Hopefully Devoted: Not What I Want…

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When the disciples of Jesus saw the followers of John had a “prayer,” they went to Jesus and asked him to teach them to pray.

I wonder if Jesus shook his head, looked at the ground and thought, “You already have one…in fact you have many. What do you think the Psalms are? You already know this.”

But what he said and did was give them the format for prayer that we know as “The Lord’s Prayer.” And many parts sound like they come from Psalm 143. Consider verse 10: “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground (NIV).”

Thinking then on Jesus praying in Gethsemene sent me to examine the rest of the Psalm:

1 Lord, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.
2 Do not bring your servant into judgment,
for no one living is righteous before you.
3 The enemy pursues me,
he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in the darkness
like those long dead.
4 So my spirit grows faint within me;
my heart within me is dismayed.
5 I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works
and consider what your hands have done.
6 I spread out my hands to you;
I thirst for you like a parched land.[a]
7 Answer me quickly, Lord;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
9 Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,
for I hide myself in you.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.
11 For your name’s sake, Lord, preserve my life;
in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
12 In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.

In the Garden, Jesus’ prayer boiled down to: not my will but yours be done.

He taught us in word and action to pray for God’s will—not our will, or our wants.

Teach Us To Pray

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Have you ever had someone pray over you?

I have. I’ve had people pray with such intensity it felt like they broke through the roof, reached right into heaven, and grabbed God by the robe.

I have been there when prayer warriors shout, scream, moan, weep, dance, jump, pace, and whoop.

I have also heard the whispers of prayers so intense the words are barely audible.

But I have never had anyone pray so intently they sweat drops of blood for me.

Wait. There was one. His name was Jesus.

Early on in his work with the disciples, they came to Jesus and asked him to teach them to pray. He gave them words that day. Words we still use…sometimes without truly making the effort to understand.

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It was in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus showed them. He demonstrated the hard work of prayer…of intercession.

Jesus wrestled with God. Take this cup. Not my will but yours.

Jesus was honest with God. If there is any other way. Not my will but yours.

Jesus didn’t quit until he had his answer. Not my will but yours.

He paced. He needed his friends. He prayed with such intensity he sweat drops of blood.

And then he was done. And able to face the horror that came next.

PRAYER: Lord, teach us to pray.

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