The Context of Connection
Before we begin today’s spiritual excursion, please take a few moments to breathe! Take three slow, deep breaths, expanding from your abdomen; try not to raise your shoulders. As you inhale, whisper, “Connecting with You, Lord…” As you exhale, whisper, “…brings us hope.”
Slowly read aloud the following Scripture
(Feel free to pause at any time during your reading to reflect on, thank, praise, or acknowledge God’s stirring in your thoughts and emotions.)
In these days [Jesus] went out to the mountain to pray, and all night He continued in prayer to God. And when day came, He called His disciples and chose from us twelve, whom He named apostles: Simon, whom He named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. And He came down with us and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and to be healed of our diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch Him, for power came out from Him and healed us all.(Luke 6:12-19, ESV)
For further exploration:
(Note: Jesus and His followers likely first spoke the Model Prayer in Aramaic, a dialect of Hebrew. You can find it still sung and recited today in a related language called Syriac, as in the video above)
Book: Praying to Change Your Life, by Suzette T. Caldwell Articles: http://bit.do/MatthewLP (scholarly)
Marvelous Father, we thank You for the Body of Christ. Thank You for the bright and prosperous future that You have for each of us. Thank You for the blood of Your precious Son, Jesus Christ, that brought us all near to You. Great is Your faithfulness. Your mercies are fresh every morning. We praise Your great and awesome Name. Your Name is holy! It is because of Your faithfulness that we are kept strong in You and the power of Your might.
Faithful Father, we declare that the Body of Christ are confident we have been raised from the dead along with Christ, and we are seated in the heavenly realms because we are united with Him. We are new people. Our old lives are gone, and a new life has begun! Lord, it is Your will that we be joyful always, ceaseless in prayer, and thankful in all circumstances. In Jesus’ Name, we declare that we are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. We do only those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. We declare that wisdom will enter our hearts, and knowledge will fill us with joy. Wise choices will watch over us and understanding will keep us safe. We decree that we are living wisely and making the most of every opportunity.
Holy Spirit, help us to strip off every weight that slows us down; especially the sins that so easily trip us up. Teach us to run with endurance the race God has set before us. Search us, O God, and know our hearts. Test us and know our anxious thoughts. Point out anything in us that offends You, and lead us along the path of everlasting life. Help us to daily trust in the Lord with all of our hearts and not lean to our own understanding, to seek His will in all that we do so that He can show us which path to take. Show us how to make divine connections with others who will hold us accountable and help keep us focused and pressing toward the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Lord, show us the place and position that You have ordained for us in Your Kingdom. Help us as the Body of Christ to stand strong in our Kingdom faith.
Compassionate Father, forgive us collectively and individually for the sinful acts that we have committed against You, including: idolatry, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, sexual sins, selfish ambitions, envy, drunkenness, division and disobedience. Forgive us for times when we have lost sight of who we are in Christ Jesus. Father, forgive me for (list any sins that you have committed).
Holy Spirit, remind us of those we need to forgive and help us to be quick to forgive. As for me, Holy Spirit, bring to my remembrance those I need to forgive. (Take a moment and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal names or faces of people that you may need to forgive. As He reveals them say, “I forgive name of person(s).” Now, trust the Lord to heal any wounds in your soul caused by unforgiveness.)
Holy Spirit, help us not to yield to temptation but deliver us from the evil one.
Almighty God, You alone are God. You are the First and the Last. It was Your hand that laid the foundations of the earth; Your right hand that spread out the heavens above. When You call out the stars, we all appear in order. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is Yours, O Lord, and this is Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture References for the Written Text: Ephesians 2:13, Lamentations 3:23, Psalm 99:3, Ephesians 6:10, Ephesians 2:6, II Corinthians 5:17, I Thessalonians 5:16-18, Romans 6:22, Proverbs 2:10- 11, II Corinthians 6:14, Colossians 4:5, Hebrews 12:1, Psalm 139:23- 24, Proverbs 3:5-6, Philippians 3:14, Matthew 6:13, Isaiah 48:12-13, I Chronicles 29:10-11
Concepts to Consider
Within The Windsor Village Church Family we are imminently blessed to sit under the teaching and example of Pastor Suzette Caldwell and her many years of devoted instruction on how to pray according to Jesus’ Model Prayer. Throughout this week, we are going to take the time to slow down and investigate some of the aspects of the Model Prayer through the lenses of historical Christian practice, language, and associated spiritual disciplines that are meant to enhance and support what we are already learning from Pastor Suzette.
Today, we will begin by situating the Model Prayer in its cultural, Biblical, and linguistic contexts.
The most common Hebrew word for prayer is “teffilah” [teh-FEE-lah] which generally mean “to connect.” To connect human persons–made in God’s image–to our Creator, to connect God’s purposes through humanity with the earth and to re-connect with our true selves. These “reconnections” reflect Jesus’ summary of Torah (the life-boundaries and teachings of God found in the first five books of the Bible), “Love the Lord your God with all your being
and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.” (see: Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:30-31)
For Jesus and His student-followers, prayer was indeed a central part of everyday life. Then, as now, observant Jews prayed and “connected” at least three times a day (morning, afternoon, and evening), and the Amidah [ah-me-DAH] or “standing prayer,” and the Shemah [sheh-MAH] “Hear, O Israel…” (see: Deuteronomy 6:4–9, Deuteronomy 11:13–21 and Numbers 15:37–41) are integral to these prayer times.
Jesus’ Model Prayer appears to have its roots in the Amidah [ah-me-DAH]. An early version of this prayer came into common practice during the time of Jesus and He used it as the scaffolding for the prayer we find in both a communal/public form in Matthew 6:9-13, and a more private form in Luke 11:1-4. These two settings indicate that the prayer was used in both public and private settings by the early Church and that its content applies to both our inward and outward lives.
The following chart compares the content of Jesus’ Model prayer with the blessings found in the Amidah, (aka “Shemoneh Esrei” [sheh-MOAN-eh ess-RAY] or “18 Blessings”).
Larger version: https://www.betemunah.org/amida.html
From Back to the Sources: Reading the Classic Jewish Texts, by Barry W. Holtz, pg. 41, Simon & Schuster; Reprint ed., 1986.
As you can see, Jesus’ Model Prayer for His followers has a long history that it is designed to give us connection and grounding, and to offer us a glimpse into the heart of God and His loving, restorative desires for humanity.
a. Personal Reflection: Since the Model Prayer was designed both for public and private use, what does this say about God’s desires for my prayer life?
b. Kingdom Reflection: The Model Prayer demonstrates God’s cosmic redemptive perspective. How does the content of the prayer help us look beyond ourselves and begin to see our place in God’s Kingdom work?
Optional Time of Centering/Soaking:
If possible, take some time, perhaps 5 to 15 minutes, to get into a comfortable position and simply allow the Lord to minister to you at a deep level (Psalm 42:7). Turn off or put down all distractions. Close your eyes. Hold in your thoughts a meaningful word, phrase, or image from the Scripture passages you read today. Release all other thoughts and concerns into the Presence of the Lord. If your thoughts wander, that’s okay, just gently return to your Scriptural word, phrase, or image. You may want to set a timer.