Teach us to Pray!

by Liz Goodyear Jones, Luke 11: 1-13

Never mind the conflicting language: Father, Lord, Kingdom etc. It’s a fine prayer, one worthy of praying. In its truest sense, it is declarative and generative and requires a person to generate what the words mean, as well as the words. 

After seeing Jesus praying, several disciples asked him, “teach us to pray!” (note the demanding nature of even the request.)

Jesus responded in kind. Here! It’s like this. DO THIS. “Abba” Jesus says. (No not the band, but an intimate for one’s parent, like mama and papa.) It’s a word I used over my own mother’s casket, as I gazed at her for the last time. “Oh mama,” I groaned from my depths. I was 55 at the time. You’re never too old to use it.

He follows this swiftly with “Hey God! You’re the One”. It’s like this little boy sitting behind me many, many years ago in church. He was fiercely coloring oblivious to the service, when the minister pronounced Jesus dead, during the scripture reading. “Dead??!! Dead!!?” the little boy shocked into a realization.

 Then there’s my favorite. Calling into being, “let the Kingdom Come”. (Reminds me of Amos: “Let justice and righteousness roll down like a living stream.”) It means the arrival of The Peaceable Kingdom of Edward Hicks, the lion and lamb together at last. It is, “We have the power”.

“Give us our daily bread”, could translate into the universal cry of, “Feed me now!” A demand we’ve all said or heard from someone in our family. And from ourselves.

This whole prayer declares and generates and demands from start to finish.

Lastly, there’s the kicker as to how one gains power in generating and causing all of this: “Forgive us Lord, AS we forgive those who hurt us”. Our ability to usher in the kingdom, the food we need for today, the ability to call God The One, all hinges on our forgiveness of others. All others. And that’s something like being a “non-anxious presence”, in the words of my other favorite Rabbi, Ed Friedman. 

With love and blessings, 

The Reverend Liz Goodyear Jones is a retired Episcopal priest, living a life she loves, deep in Florida in something of a treehouse complete with lake, bunnies and roseate spoonbills, listening to her husband’s jazz saxophone and giving thanks for the kingdom 

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