The Short Form
Two members of the Wyrtzen family like to keep it short and direct—my wife, Mary, and my son, Joel. I go on and on trying to make a point, but Mary and Joel take an hour of discussion and boil it down to a sentence. When it comes to prayer, the wise man of Ecclesiastes sides with Mary and Joel, “Don’t be quick with your mouth or hasty in your heart to blurt out a word before God for He is in Heaven and you are on the earth; therefore, let your words be few.” - Ecclesiastes 5:2
Jesus agreed with this wise man when He gave His disciples the prayer He wanted them to recite. In Luke we have even a shorter version than was given in Matthew.
“And He said to them, ‘Whenever you all pray, say, ‘Father, may Your Name be treated as holy. May your Kingdom come. Our bread, our daily need, give to us each day. And forgive us our sins for we also forgive all who owe us. Don’t lead us into testing.’” Luke 11:2-4
My evangelical heritage stresses individual, extemporaneous prayer, but it’s important to not forget the power of connecting with God as a united group in worship. There’s power in obeying Jesus and reciting these words. In a simple, direct prayer Jesus reminds us of our intimacy with God. We can call Him, Abba. He then balances this closeness by reminding us that our Father is the Lord of Heaven and Earth; therefore, we treat Him with reverence, submission, and respect. Our future is filled with hope as we yearn for the time when He will return and set up His Kingdom. This grand conclusion to history doesn’t mean God doesn’t care about our little daily needs. And if we want His forgiveness, we must forgive those who we feel owe us. Finally, it’s okay for us to ask Him not to bring us into those intense times of testing and temptation.
Tommy Hobson, one of my former deacons, always repeated part of this prayer when I asked him to close our meetings. It was the part about “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” I remember thinking, Tommy, why the plural? Why confess our sins as a group? But Tommy got it right. We’re in this together. We are one, and this means that as a group we can seriously sin against others, and when we do, we need to ask God to forgive us and for them to forgive us. So let’s pray together,
Father, may Your Name be treated as holy. May your Kingdom come. Our bread, our daily need, give us each day. And forgive us our sins for we also forgive all who owe us. Don’t lead us into testing.
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