We Pray to a Big God
May 7, 2019 1208
Why did the twelve disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray? Being Jews, the twelve were not new to prayer. Yet, after spending three years with Jesus, they felt the need to update their knowledge and practice of prayer. Take note that this discussion was not initiated by Jesus, but by the disciples. As some theologians have observed, this makes it more of an invitation than a command.
Recently, I noted something rather astonishing in the structure of the Lord’s Prayer. It does not begin with a confession of sin. It begins with praise followed by simple petitions. “Forgive us our sins” only comes at the middle of this wonderful prayer.
Let me submit to you that the structure is the most important thing that Jesus wished his followers to note. Jesus didn’t say that we should recite his prayer. Rather he said that “In this manner, therefore, pray”. That is why the structure is very important. The chronology of the petitions is not a sheer accident.
The Lord’s Prayer shows us that God is bigger than our sins. Prayer reflects the “size” of the God to whom we pray.
God is bigger than our sins
Naturally, one would expect sins to be the first item addressed, that sins ought to be confessed before anything else. To the contrary, we learn that God is not scared by our sins when we come to him in prayer. Jesus knows that there cannot be a genuine communication where one party fears the other or feels terribly awful and unworthy.
Thus, Jesus invites us to speak the name of God, even to address him as “Our father”. This is a privilege that we wouldn’t have experienced without Christ.
When we start praying in the format of the Lord’s Prayer, the opening section overwhelms us with God’s majesty as we give praise to his name. In this process we lose ourselves in his glory and we forget that we are sinners.
God does not want us to enter into prayer with guilt and a feeling of hopelessness. He wants us to forget ourselves and enjoy the feeling of being in the presence of a Holy God who is also our Father in Heaven. It is only after entering into this father-son relationship that we can be able to say “forgive us our trespasses”.
This is a revolutionary idea for the theology of prayer. Without Jesus, it is not possible to prayer the Lord’s Prayer. This prayer is only made possible by the death of Christ and that’s why it’s only Jesus who teaches it.
– Pr Bonifesh Muhollo