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A MODEL PRAYER: MATTHEW 6:9-13
“Prayer is not so much about convincing God to do what we want God to do as it is about convincing ourselves to do what God wants us to do.”1 What might it look like to make Jesus’ Model Prayer a model for daily life? Might we become the answer to our prayers? Jesus announced a new kingdom’s coming with words and signs … a new social order. A. Passion for God’s Glory • • • name kingdom will

Matthew 6:9: “Our Father in Heaven Hallowed Be Your Name …” “Our” - a prayer of community and reconciliation, belonging to a new kind of people who have left the land of “me.” (An exodus people who have entered a promised land of “we.”) Here God teaches us the interconnectedness of grace and liberation in a new social order. We are created to be loved and to love. Jesus’ longest prayer (John 17) is that we be one as the Father and Son are one. His promise to us is that is who we are - by the work of his Holy Spirit. Much in this world tries to rob us of this divine gift, seducing us to settle for independence over interdependence - security over sacrifice. Yet, we are the body of Christ.
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See Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers: Prayer for Oridinary Radicals (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP, 2008).

2 Praying the Model Prayer is inviting God to make us what we already are - the beloved community of a new humanity. “Our Father in Heaven” - A transcendent God beyond the boundaries of this world, whose name is so hallowed that it is not even mentioned - is drawing near to us. Jesus teaches his disciples to travel with a new vision of interdependence, trusting that God would provide through brothers and sisters. The church was to only to practice hospitality, but to be dependent on hospitality also. Matthew 10:5-15 We cannot have God as Father if we deny the sisterhood and brotherhood we share with the rest of God’s children. Matthew 6:10 “Hallowed Be Your Name, Your Kingdom Come …” Jesus claims that the whole history of Israel is somehow made complete in him. We pray asking God to make us into a community that could be called holy. It is, in short, to believe that we have been made part of the people called Israel. Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament law. Matthew 5:17 Jesus came to do what the people of Israel could not do on their own - to live a life worthy of God’s name. Jesus called himself the Way - and his followers were called people of the Way. To live this Way is to become part of Jesus’ body - that body politic in which Israel’s way of life is graciously opened to all the peoples of the earth. “Your” kingdom come - we have been invited to become living members of Christ’s body - but the body still belongs to Christ. Conversion is about developing new habits for living. The kingdom is not some place that our souls are taken away to when we die. It is, instead, an order that comes to earth - right here among us who call ourselves daughters and sons of God. We become the kind of community that is the answer to our request - forgetting ourselves, we become the sort of joyful people who hallow God’s name by how we live with one another. When the options are “get rich” or “save the world,” we can respond with, “I want to become part of the people who ask for God’s kingdom to come in their life together.” We can find our identity not in our work or our causes, but in “Our Father in heaven …”

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B. Dependence on God’s Grace • • • for our daily bread forgiveness of sins deliverance from evil

Matthew 6:11 -12 “Give Us Today … Forgive Us as We Have Forgiven …” Remember the connection of God’s provision of manna in the wilderness with the way of living God revealed to his people at Mt. Sinai. God’s kingdom is not only a new social order, a new political order, but also a new economic order- an economy of providence. God’s way of life includes an economy of radical redistribution in which “the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” (Exodus 16:18) Those who have been trained to trust God for provision are the only people who will ever believe that Jubilee is a good idea. “Jubilee” - debts forgiven, land that had been sold returned to original owner, prisoners set free. Once in every generation (50th year), the playing field would be leveled as a guard against injustice in the beloved community of God’s people. If we never earn anything - if everything is gift - then it begins to make sense that God would want to redistribute gifts as a guard against injustice in a broken and sinful world. At his first recorded sermon in his hometown, Jesus stood and declared that the Jubilee was fulfilled in him Luke 4:18-19. “The year of the Lord’s favor” is the year of Jubilee. What does this mean? To the early church it meant that there would be no poor among them - they ended poverty in their midst. Today, charities and governments become the brokers for our compassion toward the poor. The problem with this is that we never get to know the poor. Many Christians are concerned about the breakdown of nuclear families (and rightly so), but we often just accept the breakdown of God’s family.

4 What we miss is the gift of God’s new economy. We learn to survive together or we sink to the bottom alone. That’s the economics of the church in a nutshell. The kingdom that we beg God to send “on earth as it is in heaven” is a kingdom of generosity. And it is contagious. We are to be “openhanded toward those of your people who are poor and needy in your land.” (Deuteronomy 15:11) Our task is to take enough for the day, be thankful for it and pass the rest along to whoever may have need. Matthew 6:13 “Lead Us Not into Temptation …” If we can’t feel the temptation, we have probably given into it. Christians are not people who are no longer tempted but people who have seen enough of God to be able to resist the kingdom of this world. If the tempter can’t steal our soul, perhaps he will just keep us busy with “important” work that pulls us away from community, reconciliation, and living. Community can be built around a common self-righteousness or around a common brokenness. Both are magnetic and contagious. The church faces the very same temptation that Jesus faced in the desert – the temptation to do spectacular things, to shock and to dazzle with power. Yet, God’s kingdom grows smaller and smaller as it takes over the world. Mother Teresa: “We can do no great things, only small things with great love. It is not how much you do but how much love you put into doing it.” In his book Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer observes that the person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community. “Deliver Us from Evil” Jesus says that we should not fear those things that can destroy the body, but we are to fear that which can destroy the soul. Matthew 10:28 While the “poor and needy” places have their share of troubles - the posh places are home to more subtle forces of evil - numbness, complacency, and comfort. These powers eat away at our souls. Perhaps the most dangerous place for a Christian to be is in safety and comfort. When we say “Amen” we are proclaiming “so be it.” When we say “Amen” we are committing ourselves to be instruments that enact God’s kingdom on earth.

5 Saying “Amen” is not the end, but the beginning …

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