Inhabiting the Lord’s Prayer

 

Our Father who is 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 also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 

The Lord’s Prayer is more than just a quaint, prayer to memorize and recite mindlessly. If we’ll slow down and meditate on it long enough, we’ll soon discover this is a prayer spacious enough to take up residence in. We can learn to inhabit these powerful petitions and abide in these comforting truths. Let’s explore all the various rooms of the LORD’s Prayer, as though we’re coming home for the holiday to the Great House of God our Father! This is based on Max Lucado’s book The Great House of God.

Its a universal longing: the desire to “return home” from wherever we’ve been. We desire to settle in where we most belong, where we’re most honestly ourselves, where we can stop pretending, quit performing, take off the mask, lounge around in our pajamas, comfortable enough to put our feet up on the furniture and enjoy a drink without worrying about a coaster. Welcome home to the Great House of God.

Let’s “sit in” each line of this over-familiar prayer, ponder these majestic surroundings and experience these truths as though for the first time. Let’s begin the tour.

THE LIVING ROOM “Our Father” – We enter the house and immediately find ourselves in the Living Room. Here we find a fireplace warm and crackling with love. We notice a portrait on wall of the Prodigal Son & Father.  Let yourself become like a child again and climb up and rest in dad’s cozy chair. Perhaps you need to step into the place of the prodigal son in the painting, and feel the loving embrace of the Father as he welcomes you back home with open arms!

You are not a number here, or an employee, or a client, or a student. In this room you are not valued for your work, your productivity, your skills; and nobody is grading you. In here we are reminded that we have been adopted as beloved children; we are not mere guests or servants in God’s house. You can relax, take a deep breath and be yourself here. This is home in the fullest sense.

THE OBSERVATORY“In the heavens” – Next, climb up the spiral staircase to the domed observatory on the roof of the Father’s house. Remember when we you young, how every child boasted about their daddy’s vocation? Back then we stood in awe of every kind of adult work.  “My dad is a doctor,” says Billy.  “Oh, yeah, well my dad drives a dump truck!” retorts Sue.  Then Tom tops them all, saying, “Well, my dad gets to wear his pajamas all day and watch TV!” (We didn’t know being unemployed wasn’t exactly a job when we were 4 years old.)

As you climb the staircase to the Father’s Observatory, join that 4-year old competition and declare proudly, “Well, my daddy runs the universe.” It’s hard to that! As Lucado puts it: “If he can place the stars in their sockets and suspend the sky like a curtain, do you think he can guide your life? If he is mighty enough to ignite the sun, do you think he can light your path? If he cares enough about planet Saturn to give it rings, might he care enough to meet your needs?” And he marvel of it all is that while he spun the galaxies into motion, he also knows each hair on your head and calls you his son or daughter. As Jesus said, “You are worth much more than birds!” Marvel at his power as you declare “My Father who dwells in and above the Heavens.”

THE CHAPEL “Hallowed be Your Name” — While you’re visiting Father’s house, don’t forget to take time each day to dwell in the  chapel. This is a place for reverent silence. A place to remind yourself that God is God and you are not. Here we pause, and rid ourselves of distractions, long enough to “Be still and know that He is God.” We spend too much time in rooms of human activity, trying to make a name for ourselves. We need to escape to the chapel often, where our eyes are drawn up away from ourselves, to get our sights on Him who is truly worthy of hallowing. We find a command and a promise from God when we visit the chapel: If you’ll “Be still” long enough, “you will know that  I am God.”

THE THRONE ROOM Thy Kingdom Come – Next step into the Throne Room where we’re invited to give God reign over every corner of our life, and let him roam freely into every room of our hearts. One image of my dad growing up was him in his recliner every evening, with the TV remote in his grip, with the power to shape our evening’s viewing experience. (Often inflicting old westerns on us.)

Likewise, we pray ourselves into the throne room by giving our Heavenly Father the controls of our lives and future, trusting he’ll lead us to the right channel. He wisely leads our hearts and minds away from empty advertisements and mindless gossip shows. He tunes our very lives to the Kingdom of God channel where His blessings overflow.

THE STUDY – “Thy Will be done” – Lucado now describes one of my favorite rooms of the Lord’s Prayer: Just down the hall from the chapel is a room uncluttered by televisions, stereos, and computers. Envision a study with bookshelves lining the walls, a braided run on the floor and an inviting fire in the hearth. In front of the fire are two high, wing chairs, one for you and one for your Father. Your seat is empty, and your Father motions for you to join him. Come and sit and ask him whatever is on your heart. No question is too small, no riddle too simple. He has all the time in the world. Come and seek the will of God. To pray, “Thy will be done” is stop seek the heart of God. The word ‘will’ means “strong desire.” The study is where we learn what God desires. What is His heart? His passion? He wants you to know it, and share in it.

THE FURNACE – “On earth as it is in Heaven” – Spending Christmas at the Great House of God would not be pleasant if the furnace was broken, and we were all curled up in blankets, shivering in big coats, teeth chattering and staring at our own breath  while we wait for the Christmas turkey to cook. Lucado suggests, “The furnace affects the whole house, and your prayers fuel the furnace of the universe. Your intercession is coal on the fire. Your pleadings are kindling to the flames. The furnace is sturdy, the vents are ready; all that is needed is your prayer. Our prayers on earth activates God’s power in heaven, and God’s will is then done on earth as it is in heaven.” Let’s stoke the furnace daily in the Great House of God so that “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” All around us each day many people are sit shivering in the icy winter of a sin-torn world, and we get to pray the warmth of Eternal love to move into their midst.

THE KITCHEN“Give us this day our daily bread”  As our tour of the Great House of God continues, we’re growing hungry passing through these fascinating rooms. Its time to head to the kitchen to see what’s cooking. The table is long. The chairs are many and the food ample. On the wall hangs a simple prayer: ‘Give us our daily bread.’ Beneath the prayer are two rules of the kitchen.

Rule #1) Don’t be shy, ask. This seems a bold if not rude request, but remember we didn’t start our tour in the kitchen. We’ve already been in the Living Room where we were reminded of our adoption! This is our home and we don’t need to walk on eggshells here. We already visited Observatory where we marveled at his handiwork. We worshiped His holiness in the chapel and submitted our will to God’s will in the Study. We’ve prayed the greatest prayer of all to fuel the furnace. Now we can  boldly ask the Father to help meet our basic needs without fear of rejection.

Rule #2) Trust the cook We can simply sit down and not fuss over calories and menu options. Just relax and trust God will provide what we need. Maybe he won’t cook up exactly what we want each day, but He’ll always give us what we need and what is best for us. Some days our plate is overflowing—a promotion, good friendships, new job, a blessing in disguise. Other days we just have to eat our broccoli and endure a portion of adversity or a side dish of tears and sorrow. When our plate is difficult to swallow, we can talk to God about it. Jesus did this in  the Garden of Gethsemane when the Father handed him a cup of suffering. But with God’s help, he swallowed it. And with God’s help, we can, too. “Give us this day our daily bread.”

THE ROOF – “Forgive us our debts” – The roof of any house is rarely noticed but always extremely important! God covered his Great House sparing no expense. The most costly section of the structure cost him the life of his only Son. ‘Deb’t means we owe someone something.  Aren’t we in God’s debt when we disobey his commands? When we mistreat his children? Every time we sin, we’re writing a check on my heavenly bank account. If Christ had not covered us with his grace, each of us would be overdrawn on that account.

When it comes to goodness we would have insufficient funds. Inadequate holiness. But God has paid our debt. Jesus has balanced our account. On our bank statement is stamped: “My grace is sufficient for you!” Look up to the roof of grace that covers our sins. The beams are from the wood of Calvary and the nails are the same nails that once held the savior to the cross. His sacrifice was for you. Express your thanks for his grace! Lord, thank for forgiving us our debts.

THE HALLWAY – “…as we forgive those who sin against us.” – Through the center of the Great House runs a large hallway. You can’t get form one room to another without using it. And you can’t walk the hallway without bumping into other people. We all have wounds. We’ve all been bumped too many times. Hurt. Betrayed. Let down. How will we treat our pain? Will we hide away in a dark room, and let our hearts grow cold toward others and spend our life hiding, running, and avoiding. Or, will we ask God to help us forgive those who have bumped into us, so that we can once again move freely about God’s Great House? C. S. Lewis described Hell in his book The Great Divorce showing embittered, self-centered inhabitants always moving further and further away from one another, until there’s not two souls within millions of lightyears from one another. When we refuse to forgive, we push others away. But as we pray “Forgive us our debts”, and as we learn to forgive those who have sinned against us”, we are practicing living in God’s big full house where we’ll live for all eternity alongside all the rest of our family redeemed.

THE WALLS – And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil – Finally, the Great House of God is safe and secure from all that would try to harm you. The walls are strong. Satan can huff and puff and threaten to blow the house down, but Satan is unable to conquer the walls of the Great House of God. Are you facing hardships? Persecution? What fears are dogging your steps? What anxieties are stealing your joy? Let the Lord’s Prayer be a place to take refuge in the middle of the battle. Run to God’s Great House. “God is our refuge and strength, our ever present help in times of trouble.”

After a delightful visit to the Father’s spacious abode, you step out the front door onto the porch and immediately feel the cold wind of a lost and hurting world blowing in your face. As you walk down the steps away from the Great House, you turn around for one last glance and see the light and warmth  inside glowing through the windows. Feeling the stark contrast between the cold darkness out here and the warm light inside, you say to yourself, “I need to come spend time here more often! Yes, maybe I’ll stop by everyday on my way home.”

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