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The Lord’s Prayer — Matthew 6:12a

And forgive us our debts,…
Matthew 6:12a (KJV)

Dear God, I started this verse and almost focused on the second part, skipping over the first, so I decided to avoid my mistake of skipping over “Our Father which art in heaven” and going straight to “hallowed be thy name” in verse 9. I don’t want to miss Jesus’s instruction that we should ask forgiveness of you.

The humility to ask forgiveness of you is the first step on the road to discipleship. None of us can come to you in our own power or under our own authority. None of us can stand up before you. You are good and perfect. We are flawed and sinful. You are loving. I am too sensitive and get my fragile ego hurt too easily. I need your mercy. I need your grace. I need you to forgive my debts against you and against others.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that one of the steps in a 12-step program is for a person working the steps to make amends when it won’t do harm to do so. And there are certainly times when it would do harm. But the humility it takes to come before you and before another person to ask forgiveness is an essential element, if not a huge part of the foundation, of the Christian life.

I still remember hearing a politician who called himself a Christian telling an interviewer before a large Christian audience that he had never felt the need to ask you for forgiveness. He had had multiple divorces and affairs. He had left creditors hanging with unpaid debt. Heck, even without all of those things, he was an imperfect human. I was very confused with the audience applauded his answer.

Father, forgive me of my debts, please. We will get to what I need to do about others’ debts to me tomorrow, but for the debts I owe to you and to those around me, please forgive me. I am sorry. I’m sorry I fail you. I’m sorry I hurt others for my own gain. I’m sorry I sometimes pick the path of least resistance for my own comfort and at the expense of others. I’m sorry I sometimes take revenge on others for the wrongs done to me (that gets into tomorrow’s verse, but it counts for today as well). Thank you that the man who taught us to pray all of this is the pathway to you. Thank you that I can stand before you on his authority and with his blessing. Thank you for making a way for me to reach you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2021 in Matthew, The Lord's Prayer

 

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The Lord’s Prayer — Matthew 6:11

Give us this day our daily bread.
Matthew 6:11 (KJV)

Dear God, what does my daily bread look like? On the surface, I think it communicates that it provides for my basic physical needs: food, shelter, clothing. So to what extent should we be satisfied if those things are met? When is enough enough?

I have a vested interest in the current Big 12 Conference situation since the school I attended will likely get lost in the shuffle. This morning, I read an article about OU and Texas wanting more. For Texas’s part, they are already the wealthiest program in the nation, generating the most revenue. But that apparently is not enough. They want more. And I’m not blaming them. The school I went to has enough, but I want more for it too. We seemingly always want more.

But Jesus didn’t seem to want more in terms of material things. It’s important, I think, to notice what is not in his prayer. He did NOT say, “Give me influence. Give me power. Make my name great so I can make your name great.” He just kept it at the basics. After we ask for your will to be done (see verse 10) then we simply ask for your provision of our basics so that our greed will not get in the way of accomplishing your will.

I mentioned the material basics. What are the other parts of our daily bread about which we don’t normally think? For example, someone to love us. Someone to love. Work to do. I think those things can be as important and critical to our lives as the food, shelter, and clothing that sustain us.

Father, show me what my daily bread is, and help me to be completely satisfied within its provision. Thank you for the food, shelter, and clothing I have. Thank you that I feel safe in my day-to-day life. I don’t experience racism because I’m a white male. Please help to be sensitive to the daily bread that others around me don’t experience and show me my role in being part of your provision to them. Whether it be through giving of material things or the other needs they have, please help me to be your ambassador, your hands, your feet, your ears, and your heart for them. And the them includes my wife, children, family, friends, and the strangers I meet.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2021 in Matthew, The Lord's Prayer

 

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The Lord’s Prayer — Matthew 6:10

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:10 (KJV)

Dear God, I confess that I have zero idea what it would look like to see your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. What was Jesus envisioning here? Was it literal, or was it a combo with the idea of your will being done on earth? Well, anyway, if it makes a difference, I ask that your kingdom would come. Is it the end of the time you’ve prescribed for the earth to live without your kingdom in it? Is the the hour? I doubt it. But Jesus seems to have instructed me to ask for it, and I can’t say I’ve ever asked. So please let your kingdom come.

As for your will, we’ll, that does seem like a whole different thing altogether now that I think about it. If we are living among the earthly kingdoms and not yours then your will might look very different than what I want it to be. In an imperfect world, I might not get my perfect outcomes. The butterfly effect of how the things you might have to do to accomplish your ultimate goals is much more than my feeble brain can comprehend. Heck, I can’t even figure out how Baylor will come out of the collapse of the Big 12. How could I possibly discern what actions are required to accomplish your will being done here on earth as it is in heaven? But I do know I trust in submitting to your plan. It might mean seeing things in my life I don’t understand and don’t like. For my children. My wife. My family of origin. My work. My own life, including health, financial security, and career. All of it is up for grabs, but part of the peace I’ve found comes from submitting all of my will to the idea that your will being done on earth as it is in heaven is worth overriding my will.

Father, help me to actually believe and live the words I just typed above. Help me to want to see beyond my selfish desires—both for me and for the ones I love—and be at peace regardless of the circumstances. Let me be part of your kingdom coming to earth. Let me be part of your will being done on earth. My utmost for your highest. I’m sorry I turn that around so often and ask that you give your utmost for my highest. I’m sorry.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2021 in Matthew, The Lord's Prayer

 

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The Lord’s Prayer — Matthew 6:9

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Matthew 6:9 (KJV)

Dear God, when I was praying through this very first part of the prayer Jesus taught us the other day, I missed an important part: Father. Our Father. My Father. What is the implication here in saying that you are my father? As a man, what is a father supposed to still provide me? As your child, what is it that I should look to you to provide me?

The trick is that most of us get our image of our earthly father mixed up with the image of you as our father. Some of us have good fathers. Some bad. Most of us have a father who is somewhere in the middle–tries their best but flawed. I think I fit in that category for my adult children. So what is it that they need from me now and what is it that you want them to have from me? More importantly, what kind of damage can I do if I get in your way and short-circuit lessons you might be trying to teach them through the path you’ve laid out for them?

As for me and what I think I need from you as my father, here are some things off of the top of my head:

  • Wisdom and discernment
  • Forgiveness and mercy (that probably should have been first)
  • The fruit of your Spirit to grow in me and out of me (love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, kindness, gentleness, self control, etc.)
  • My daily bread (I’ll dive more into that in a few days)
  • Love and acceptance

Now that I look at it, other than giving my adult children their daily bread, I would be pleased if they could get all of those things from me, including seeing the fruit of your Spirit growing in me and then they too would be drawn to you through that.

Father (I always start this last paragraph addressing you as “Father,” but today I’d like to underscore it), thank you for your forgiveness and mercy. Thank you for the fruit of your Spirit. Thank you for loving and accepting me. Please give me wisdom and discernment as I move through this day. Love through me. Show mercy through me. And please provide my daily bread, and help me to know how to use the resources you’ve given me both in my personal life and through my work so that your kingdom will come and your will will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2021 in Matthew, The Lord's Prayer

 

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The Lord’s Prayer— Matthew 6:9 (KJV)

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Matthew 6:9 (KJV)

Dear God, I think we tend to read over this part of the Lord’s Prayer, but it’s no accident that acknowledging you, who you are, and your holiness is the first step. “Hallowed be thy name.” How often we forget to worship you in our prayers. How often I forget.

I decided to look up a definition for “hallowed.” Here’s what I found on Merriam-Webster:

When the translators for the King James version were coming up with what word they should use to describe what the original text was saying, this was the best they could do. Since then, other translators have taken a shot at it:

  • New American Standard: Hallowed
  • New International Version: Hallowed
  • New Living Translation: Holy

It’s interesting that two out of the three stayed with Hallowed. I guess when you get it right you get it right, and the translators of the King James Version got it right. That’s as good as we can do in the English language for revering your name.

Father, help me to remember to revere you in everything I do. Help me to always lead with worship and reverence whenever I pray to you. Help me to not forget that this is the most important part of my prayer—that’s why it’s first. You are my God. You are my Lord. You are the only one in whom I can put my trust. I cannot put my faith in our government or military, our economy, my relatives, my wife, my children, my health, etc. All I have is you. You are my hope. You are my source for peace. Hallowed is your name.

Of course, I pray all of this through the grace of your precious son and in his name, Jesus,

Amen

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2021 in Matthew, The Lord's Prayer

 

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The Lord’s Prayer — Matthew 6:8-13

Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Matthew 6:8-13

Dear God, I was at a meeting of pastors two days ago and one of the pastors told this story (my paraphrase).

I was at a symposium in Scotland and before every session we would say the Lord’s Prayer. Then at the end of every session we would say the Lord’s Prayer. On about the third day I had my head bowed and thought to myself, “Don’t they know any other prayers?” Then I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me, “It’s a pretty good prayer.” Then I thought to myself, “Maybe I don’t know it as well as I think I do.” So for a year it was just about the only prayer I prayed, and I found out I didn’t, indeed, know it as well as I thought I did.

That made me consider the idea that maybe I don’t know it well enough either. I’m not sure I will go the course of only praying this for a year, but I do want to give it a good week, and think through the depths of each part. After all, “it is a pretty good prayer.”

I decided to go with the King James Version from Matthew since that’s the most universally recited among English speakers.

I guess I’ll start with Jesus’s introduction because it seems important. He said, “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” He’s following up on the part about not doing as the heathen do and praying repetitious things impressively out loud (although if one were to pray only this over and over out loud I suppose it could fall in the same category).

Ironically, I’ve been asked to give the invocation at our local city council meeting tonight. This is the perfect example of an opportunity to focus on sounding impressive in front of people of power in my community as opposed to truly coming before your throne in front of those same people and asking your hand to be on their hearts and in the proceedings. Of course, my plan this evening is to stay for the entire meeting, sitting in a back corner and praying for everyone in the room and everything happening in the room.

On a slightly different tack on Jesus’s words here, there are times when I wonder if I am violating what you are saying here by posting these prayers to you on my blog. My rationale for continuing to do it and feeling like it has your blessing is that it feels like you continue to meet with me during these times and the reason I blog these prayers is to encourage others in their relationship with you.

Father, the words in this passage are for me. Help me to continually be submitted to you as I approach this time in prayer and be glorified through the words I speak/think/type to you. Use these times to mold and change my heart. To learn. To worship. To repent. To beseech. To extend mercy. To love.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2021 in Matthew, The Lord's Prayer

 

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Tobit 8:15-17

Then Raguel blessed the God of heaven with these words: “Blessed are you, O God, with every pure blessing. Let all your chosen ones bless you; let them bless you forever. Blessed are you for having given me joy; that which I feared did not occur. Rather you have dealt with us according to your great mercy. Blessed are you for showing compassion to two only children. Be merciful to them, Master, and keep them safe; allow them to live their lives fully in happiness and in mercy.”
Tobit 8:15-17

Dear God, I’m not sure if this is my first time to journal to you from the Apocrypha, but it might be. I attend Catholic Church with my wife so I suppose it was just a matter of time.

I love this prayer of a father for his children. In context, he was trying to figure out what you were doing for his daughter and the man she married. He wanted them to be blessed. He wanted them to be happy. He saw impossible circumstances for them, and he didn’t have faith that you could overcome them. But when he saw what you were doing he prayed this prayer in joy and blessing.

Father, you know my heart right now. You know the mountains I see that seem immovable. And, honestly, my faith in how this will all work out in the long run is probably greater than this father’s because I’ve seen you do it before. So please guide me. Give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2021 in Tobit

 

Philippians 2:1-5

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Philippians 2:1-5

Dear God, parenting is different than any other kind of relationship. We all need our parents to help form us and teach us different aspects of life. By the nature of the relationship, there is going to be conflict.

The same is true, in some ways, with my relationship with you. I can sometimes reject the lessons you try to teach me. I can complain or even hold a grudge against you. I can feel sorry for myself. I can let it drive me out of pursuing my relationship with you.

Father, as I try to follow Paul’s advice to the Philippians in this passage, help me to start with dying to myself and purifying my own motives when it comes to interacting with you or others, including my wife, children, family of origin, coworkers, and community. Make me an instrument of your peace.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2021 in Philippians

 

Matthew 4:1-11

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ ” Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.
Matthew 4:1-11

Dear God, so I woke up this morning and found an email from a friend in our group at church. He told me that he had gone down to the chapel at our church and prayed for my wife and me as we go through something painful. It had to be in the top 5 of humbling, kind, loving things I can think of that anyone has ever done for me. I was overwhelmed by it.

I believe in spiritual warfare, but I don’t live enough like I do. When I look at challenging situations or temptations I often forget to pray about the spiritual realm. But even this story about direct interactions between Jesus and Satan is a reminder that in any crisis I’m facing, even if Satan did cause the crisis itself, he’s certainly trying to influence my response to it.

Father, even now, help me to not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from your mouth. Give me ears to hear, eyes to see your reality, and wisdom/discernment to know how you need me to respond. Help me to not test you. Help me to not doubt your goodness. Help me to keep my faith in you. Thank you for the confirmations you’ve sent me in the past through all sorts of trials. Whether it’s through my work, my marriage, relationships with my children or family of origin, or with others in the community, help me to walk the road you need me to walk so that your will might be done and your kingdom will come to earth.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2021 in Matthew

 

“God’s Country” by Blake Shelton

“God’s Country” by Blake Shelton

Right outside of this one church town
There’s a gold dirt road to a whole lot of nothin’
Got a deed to the land, but it ain’t my ground
This is God’s country
We pray for rain, and thank Him when it’s fallen
‘Cause it brings a grain and a little bit of money
We put it back in the plate
I guess that’s why they call it God’s countryI saw the light in the sunrise
Sittin’ back in a 40 on the muddy riverside
Gettin’ baptized in holy water and ‘shine
With the dogs runnin’
Saved by the sound of the been found
Dixie whistled in the wind, that’ll get you Heaven bound
The Devil went down to Georgia but he didn’t stick around
This is God’s countryWe turned the dirt and worked until the week’s done
We take a break and break bread on Sunday
And then do it all again
‘Cause we’re proud to be from God’s country (yeah, yeah)I saw the light in the sunrise
Sittin’ back in a 40 on the muddy riverside
Gettin’ baptized in holy water and ‘shine
With the dogs runnin’
Saved by the sound of the been found
Dixie whistled in the wind, that’ll get you Heaven bound
The Devil went down to Georgia but he didn’t stick around
This is God’s country (yeah)God’s countryI don’t care what my headstone reads
Or what kind of pinewood box I end up in
When it’s my time, lay me six feet deep
In God’s country (yeah, yeah)I saw the light in the sunrise
Sittin’ back in a 40 on the muddy riverside
Gettin’ baptized in holy water and ‘shine
With the dogs runnin’
Saved by the sound of the been found
Dixie whistled in the wind, that’ll get you Heaven bound
The devil went down to Georgia but he didn’t stick around
This is God’s country (God’s country)
Yeah, I saw the light in the sunrise
Sittin’ back in a 40 on the muddy riverside
Gettin’ baptized in holy water and ‘shine
With the dogs runnin’
Saved by the sound of the been found
Dixie whistled in the wind, that’ll get you Heaven bound
The Devil went down to Georgia but he didn’t stick around
This is God’s country

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Devin Dawson / Jordan Schmidt / Michael Wilson Hardy

Dear God, I was helping a relative do some manual labor work yesterday and this song came on their playlist. I hadn’t heard it before. When I heard the phrase “God’s country,” I started paying attention to the lyrics. I had an immediate negative reaction to the song. As I listened more and heard him talk about being baptized by the rain and such I started to wonder if I shouldn’t like this song and maybe I was missing something. I decided then that I would look at it again this morning and spend some time thinking about what was rubbing me the wrong way and discern if I was wrong or if it was perhaps revealing a truth about our world.

In the end, I think it’s possible that Mr. Shelton and the writers of this song have relationships with you that are deep and personal, but I think this song affirms a view of you that’s not much different than the Greeks had of Zeus. You are this big powerful up there who expects our worship, tributes, and even our tithe, but where’s the relationship? Where’s the humility? Where’s the “love the Lord your God with all your mind, soul, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself”? Is it implied? In the lyrics. Maybe Shelton and the writers intended to imply it, but I would bet that a lot of the people who love the song don’t infer that.

This goes back to the theme of my prayers to. You over the last couple of months when I heard the sermon by Andy Stanley when he talked about the difference between being a believer in you and a follower of you. A believer just gives you your homage (maybe) and prays when they want something. A follower seeks to be transformed by you into your likeness. A follower works out their faith with fear and trembling. A follower sincerely asks what Jesus would do, not just to decide what action to take, but to also repent of the part of their heart that doesn’t want to follow that path.

Father, any song that talks about you but drives me to strut around with my chest out is probably not giving me the right ideas. Like I said, Mr. Shelton and the writers of this song might be in deep relationship with you, but I can completely see this song being played over loudspeakers at a Christian Nationalist event. So help me to put songs like this in their place. They aren’t bad. I would just call it incomplete. There’s nothing wrong with feeling confident in you and your provision. There’s nothing wrong with feeling proud of my faith. Just help me to remember that there’s more. There’s this time. There’s the time I spend praying to you—repenting and seeking your wisdom and insight. I need wisdom and insight right now. Help me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

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