Matthew 6:9-13. The Lord’s Model Prayer consists of 6 petitions: 3 expressing our passion for God’s glory (his name, kingdom, and will), followed by 3 expressing our dependence on his grace (for our daily bread, forgiveness of our sins, and deliverance from evil). Dependence is a fundamental attitude of a disciple. On humility:1 Thank God, often and always … Thank God, carefully and wonderfully for your continuing privileges…. Thankfulness is a soil in which pride does not easily grow. Take care about confession of your sins. Be ready to accept humiliation. Do not worry about status…. There is only one status that our Lord bids us to be concerned with, and that is the status of proximity to himself…. Use your sense of humor. Laugh about things, laugh at the absurdities of life, laugh about yourself, and about your own absurdity. A refusal to be dependent on others is not a mark of maturity but of immaturity - our common human vulnerability and frailty is to be shared in a process of healing. We are called to become more personal, to become persons…. We have given things priority over persons; we have built a civilization based on things rather than on persons. Old people are discounted because they are purely and simply persons, whose only value is as persons and not as producers any more. Yet, when we are old … we have the time and the qualifications necessary to a true ministry of personal relationships.2 We come into this world totally dependent on the love, care, and protection of others. We go through a phase of life when other people depend on us. Most of us will go out of this world totally dependent on the love and care of others. We are designed to be a burden to others. The life of the family, including the life of the local church family, should be one of “mutual burdensomeness.” “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the
1 2

Michael Ramsey, “Divine Humility,” chap. 11 in The Christian Priest Today, rev. ed. (London: SPCK, 1985), 79-91. Paul Tournier, Learning to Grow Old, trans. Edwin Hudson (London: SCM Press. 1972), pp. 11, 40, 43.

2 law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 Christ himself takes on the dignity of dependence. In the person of Christ we learn that dependence does not, cannot, deprive a person of their dignity, of their supreme worth. And if dependence was appropriate for the God of the universe, it is certainly appropriate for us. (R-3) Jesus has the power to cause evil spirits to flee and to bring the most hardened hearts to God. The question is whether we trust in his power. In our subculture, we are tempted to trust in our own power. Our challenge is to live in such a way that we are dependent on and desperate for the power that only God can provide. As the American dream goes, we can do anything we set our minds to accomplish. The dangerous assumption is that our greatest asset is our own ability. But, the gospel beckons us to die to ourselves and to trust in God’s power. In the gospel, God confronts us with our utter inability to accomplish anything of value apart from him. (John 15:5)! The subtly fatal goal of the American dream: to make much of ourselves. The goal of the gospel is to make much of God. God actually delights in exalting our inability. He intentionally puts his people in situations where they come face to face with their need for him. Our churched subculture has created a whole host of means and methods, plans and strategies for doing church that require little if any power from God. We live out the American dream in the context of our churches, our communities of faith. We have convinced ourselves that if we can position our resources and organize our strategies, that we can accomplish our goals. What is strangely lacking in the performance, personalities, programs, and professionals is desperation for the power of God. The book of Acts portrays different images. It opens with a small band of disciples “joined together constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:14) - only confident that they are not going to accomplish anything without God’s provision. Luke, the author of Acts, makes much of God: 2:41 “were added” 2:47 “the Lord added ...” 5:14 “were added” 11:24 “were brought” 13:48 “were appointed” New Testament church: a scene where “the church” radically trusts in God’s great power to provide unlikely people with unlimited, unforeseen, uninhibited resources to make his name known as great. God stands ready to allocate his power to all who are radically dependent on him and radically devoted to making much of him. (Luke 11:11-13; John 16:13; Ephesians 1:17; Acts 1:8; 2 Timothy 1:7; Galatians 5:22-23)

3 We ask God for gifts in prayer, and he gives us the Giver. We ask God for comfort, and he gives us the Comforter. We ask God for guidance, and he gives us the Guide. We ask God for discernment, strength, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control, and he gives us the Holy Spirit, the Source. John 14:12-14. (The heart of Jesus’ promise to his disciples.) For those who long to see his power at work and live to see his purposes accomplished, God will give everything needed according to his very presence in our lives. The way of Christ: instead of asserting ourselves, we crucify ourselves. Instead of imagining the things we can accomplish, we ask God to do what only he can accomplish. Instead of dependence on ourselves, we express desperation for the power of his Spirit. Instead of doubting, we trust that Jesus stands ready to give us everything we ask for so that he might make much of our Father in the world. May we plead: God show me your radical power in and through us, enabling us to accomplish for your glory what we could never imagine in our own strength.

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