Simple Prayers. Simple Words.


Simple Prayers. Simple Words.

by Dan Behrens on October 30, 2020 | Evergreen Foursquare Church

Therefore, in this manner you should pray: Our Father 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 forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.  Matthew 6:9-13

Most of us recognize these very familiar scriptures as the Lord’s Prayer. I bet some of us can even recite these words from memory. No doubt, nearly all of us have even leaned on them in times of needed comfort and solace. We might regard this particular prayer or even Jesus’ model of prayer as simple. These simple words. This simple prayer.

And yes, in a way they are simple words. Simple and singular in focus. A foundation of sorts that anchors us to our Christian ancestors who, like us, have daily prayed for divine authority to be expressed on earth, divine provision to ease our daily need, divine forgiveness to absolve our tremendous guilt, and divine protection to overshadow our obedient faith.

But simple does not necessarily mean powerless, less effective or less important. No one believes that. In fact, we simplify all sorts of things in order to draw out what’s most important, powerful and effective. We simplify equations in order to grapple with manageable figures. We simplify scriptures in order to propose life principles. We simplify instructions in order to expedite workflow. We rightly simplify all of life’s enormities in order to take on more, make room for other, or to simply move on.

And here is the point (the point of contrast, that is). We simplify things in order to take on more and more. But that is not what Jesus does here in teaching us how to pray. His words are simple, but his focus is central; his manner of prayer an everlasting process of abiding in God. Jesus does not teach us to ask for more, believe for more, hope for more. Rather he teaches us to pursue what is already ours in the Father and to enduringly abide in that reality.

As familiar as these scriptures are (and ritualistic in their recitation), we are no less indebted to their efficiency in bringing us back to the foundation of our faith—willful, obedient, surrender. From here onward, we need not be frightened or discouraged in approaching our heavenly Father. Doesn’t “he know already know what we need”(Mt6)? Indeed, he does. It’s that simple.

@danieljbehrens on twitter

@danieljbehrens on twitter


 

Make Peace When Others Won’t


Make Peace When Others Won’t

by Dan Behrens on October 10, 2020 | Evergreen Foursquare Church

“It is one thing to view the land of peace from a wooded ridge; quite another to tread the road that leads there.” -St. Augustine [excerpt from Surprised By Joy by C.S. Lewis]

The bible gives us many examples of either a command, a charge, even a plea for the people of God to pursue peace. Or, if peace is not readily found, to make peace. In fact, we are to make peace when others won’t. Jesus calls this endeavor blessed—”blessed are the peacemakers,” he says (Mt 5).

Having said this, there are also a great many examples in the bible of persons who made peace their genuine goal and suffered mightily for it. A sobering contrast—the one who makes for peace typically receives very little of it, typically receives the constant nag of scrutiny, cynicism, mischaracterization, insult, and even certain abuses. Yet again, Jesus calls you blessed. That is way of the Christ, what some might describe as foolishness. “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows,” he says. “But take heart, for I have overcome the world” (Jn 16).

There is nothing foolish about the miracles of God experienced through those who make peace their true goal. The world may not receive it. The world may outright reject it. May even seek your harm in response. But they will not deceived. Peace is not that kind of offering that goes unnoticed. Much more shrewd are the preparations made by peace when all our faith and hope have soured—hints of forgiveness, acceptance, trust, compassion, and pure affection begin to turn up. As for when these turn up, time will tell. But first comes peace, either readily present or something born out of your own tremendous effort. “For the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make for peace” (Jm 3).

@danieljbehrens on twitter

@danieljbehrens on twitter