Sometimes it is hard to see eye-to-eye with others. Do you know what I mean? It is not always easy to agree with others and their ideas. For example, imagine you are on a road trip with family or friends. It is a long trip that demands potty breaks every so often. Have you ever noticed some people have a cast iron bladder while others need a rest stop every few minutes? Some people like to travel easy, while others are constantly figuring out how many miles they have covered in the last hour. Or, what about dinnertime on the road? “OK, it’s about time to eat. Where are we going to stop for a fast meal?” One kid says, “Taco Bell,” another says, “Subway,” then you hear, “No, McDonalds!” Lastly, someone chirps in, “I’m not hungry yet.”
You may know what I am talking about. You may be working on a project with a colleague who, according to your way of thinking, does not have a clue. Or maybe you are having difficulty seeing eye-to-eye on how your family spends its dispensable income — what’s it going to be: hunting stuff or new clothes? You may be a coach who has to deal with 16 players on the roster and only nine positions.
Our personal agenda also can shape our attitude about prayer. It can prompt us to pray for victory in the soccer game, while the opposing team prays for our defeat. I have often wondered how God answers those prayers. Our prayers can sound like this — although probably not as rude — “God, this is what I want. Deliver.” Should our prayers be all about what we want?
Fortunately, Jesus addresses this issue in Matthew 6:9-10, “This, then, is how 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.” These are the beginning verses of the famous Lord’s Prayer that has been memorized and quoted by followers of Christ for nearly 2,000 years. Jesus is pointing all of us to take our prayers beyond ourselves.
The instruction from Jesus here is, “This is how you should pray.” You can imagine that there was a question asked before this directive, “How should we pray?” Our attention is directed to the Father, who is in heaven. Sometimes this can be confusing and even hurtful, as some experienced the pain of having a father who was not conducting his fatherhood in a healthy manner. In addition to that, our society does not always celebrate fatherhood — sometimes portraying fathers as nothing more than ridiculous figures like Homer Simpson. But this is our Father God who is in heaven. He is above all. He is the ever-loving Father. Jesus, through this prayer, is teaching us how to be a follower, or a son or daughter. He wants us to understand that this Father knows best.
The three beginning lines of this all-important prayer are, “hallowed be your name” or may you be honored above all; “your kingdom come” or God I surrender to your authority to rule my life; and “your will be done” or I want what you want. The challenge for us is resisting our personal agenda, setting it aside and aligning with God the Father’s initiatives.
It is not easy to resist our will and align it with God’s. It takes trust. It takes surrender. It takes discovery of God’s desires and wishes in this world. Are you ready for it? This would bring about a different way to pray and a changed way to live. I encourage you this week to try to align yourself to God’s initiatives.
Imagine what would happen in our community if we all altered our agendas for God’s higher cause. It would have a tremendous effect on our relationships and maybe life’s road trips would be a little less disruptive.
Can't we all just get along?
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