The Grace-Laced Lord’s Prayer
Last Christmas, Susan and I had the opportunity to attend a concert with an extremely talented jazz trio.
The proficiency of the musicians was astounding. The trio began each carol with it’s own unique arrangement, but maintained the traditional, familiar melody line. After they got you singing the familiar tune in your head, they deviated into phenomenal, awe inspiring instrumental riffs. Shortly after our jaws had fallen into our laps, the trio returned to the well known melody line and ended the carol.
While they were operating with impressive artistic freedom, they were at the same time, locked into both a key signature and a tempo. The music they created was inspired and original, while at the same time being governed by patterns.
The Lord’s prayer is like that. Jesus has given it to us as a gracious gift that shapes our purpose and our posture for prayer. On Sundays we pray the particular words of the prayer corporately, but day to say we can follow the pattern of the prayer privately. Jesus gave the prayer in plural form (Our Father) because how God instructs our public worship shapes our private practice … not the other way around. Christian faith is celebrated and strengthened in community, we are not individual spiritualists.
In the same way that impassioned, heart felt music can spring from the pattern laid out in a key signature, we can pray very impassioned, heart felt prayers according to the pattern laid out for us in the Lord’s prayer.
Jesus giving us this prayer as the ‘alpha prayer‘ is a great gift because the pattern of the Lord’s prayer is grace-laced.
The Grace-Laced Lord’s Prayer
Our Father Who Art In Heaven
Think about it. We are praying to a Father. We begin by remembering our relationship and reflecting on how we were adopted into that relationship. We have the undeserved, unrelenting, unbreakable acceptance and love of God. United to Christ by sheer grace and faith alone, God is not a judge presiding over us, but a loving Father who is inclined toward us. That’s Who we’re coming to. To borrow from Keller, ‘you can’t go into the throne room and ask the King for a glass of water – but you can if you’re his child’.
Hallowed Be Thy Name
We move into praise & adoration in prayer by ‘hallowing’ the name of God. We call Him holy, not from fear of His judgement but from the awe that His grace has spared us from judgement. Christ knew God’s wrath so that in Him, we will know God’s mercy. We don’t praise Him because He needs our praise to be God, but because we need to praise Him to be fully human. To borrow from CS Lewis, “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”
Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done, on Earth as It Is In Heaven
This reorders the commitment we have to our will and drives us to rest in His will. His grace frees us from our failing attempts to be god and reorients us to rest in the greatness of God. We are graciously ushered out of the anxiety we feel about what we think should happen in our lives and find His grace is sufficient for whatever happens in our lives.
Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread:
Jesus invites us to present our needs to God daily because we are dependant, humbly because God is wise and confidently because we are loved. Asking for our daily needs reminds us that in His great grace, He has already met our ultimate need. Because of His great grace, the end of our story is not suffering and facing the finality of death, but resurrection and the promise of eternal life.
Forgive Us Our Trespasses As We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us
Our hearts are further recalibrated in remembering that all of our sin has been pardoned. Forgiveness flows from resting in the grace of our pardon.
And Lead Us Not Into Temptation, But Deliver Us From Evil
God’s rescuing grace has a reforming trajectory. We are no longer slaves to the evil inside us or the Evil One outside us. We will always struggle with sin, but we are not slaves to sin. By God’s grace, we increasingly desire to forsake our sin and love our Saviour.
For Thine Is The Kingdom, The Power And The Glory, Forever
After acknowledging our needs, our troubles and our insufficiency, we return to God’s sufficiency … because that’s where the rest is.
Good news …
Not only do the kingdom, the power and the glory belong to God – but because of His great grace in Christ – you belong to God.
You can listen to the series on the Lord’s prayer here.