You may be surprised to know a little bear lives in our home. He showed up shortly after the birth of my youngest child, Jonathan (now 18 years old). He’s a softly stuffed, six-inch teddy bear that wears a light-blue and white striped night cap sewn on his little head. But this stuffed animal is like none we’ve ever had (and we have had plenty!). He is in a kneeling position, eyes closed, with little, furry paws crossed. He whispers the following words, which have been for me a balmy salve, saturating and soothing my rough, ragged, resistant and often resentful soul. He quotes this prayer of Jesus:
“Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
Just before offering this prayer, Christ warned the people against praying like hypocrites. Back in the first century, a hypocrite was a reference to an actor in a play. Today, we refer to hypocrites as pretenders, swindlers (hey, careful there), outwardly pious people who pretend to be highly moral and deeply committed to Christ. However, when the church lights go out, the true character of the hypocrite is revealed—and it’s often shocking, bewildering, and compromised.
As I’ve ruminated over this blog entry, I’ve discovered some hypocrisy in my own soul . . . I’ve talked to Jesus, my husband, and my counselor about this simple prayer and how it has pierced places in me that need refining. My hope is that those who profess to believe in Jesus Christ will choose the simple life of sincere faith. I pray these truths sink into your soul as God continues to refine us into His image.
In this prayer, Christ said:
- We pray to an intimate, infinite Lord, our heavenly Father, worthy of our worship. Therefore, prayer isn’t to inform God of something He may have missed (oops); it’s to begin with acknowledging His sovereignty, His faithfulness, and His presence. Whether we feel it or not, faith is about living in truth.
- Because He is our Father, it’s okay for us to come to Him as a child—with no pretense and not “politically or socially” trained with the world’s rules. We come to Him as a child—messy, sometimes mad, in need, hurt, or happy.
- Because we are to come to Him in a childlike manner, big words, long statements, and verbosity are NOT expected! Simple words suffice: “I need You.” “I can’t do this.” “Will you help me?” “I’m so sad.” We’re to come to Him with meekness, humility, and without fear. His care is so tender; call to Him as you are.
- Because there are no masks we can wear to disguise our hearts from God, prayer should be simple. We are called to forgive. I’ve struggled with this one the most . . . to give full release of any damaging, painful wrongdoing that’s happened to me. And ask not to be led into temptation . . . how often we are tempted to think of ways to get even!
This prayer calls us to let go and then be free to praise Him forever and ever. Amen.