When did Jesus’ followers really get it right while he was with them? So often they get close to understanding what is going on, but just aren’t quite there. There is something they miss about who Jesus is, about forgiveness, or about faith. One of the absolute mountaintops for the disciples has to be when they ask Jesus to teach them to pray. We don’t often think about the Lord’s prayer as a mountaintop experience because it is something that stays with us, and we pray it all the time. Nevertheless it remains a key component to the faith, a pinnacle of connection with God. It is the prayer we turn to when we don’t know what else to pray. It is the prayer that unites Christians across the globe.
But what does it say? Have you paid attention to it lately? I invite you to read the Luke text slowly. Do it out loud. Ponder it. Turn it over in your mind, heart, and soul. Consider the brashness of the prayer. It is incredibly demanding in its simplicity. In the second half of the prayer we are taught to say “give, forgive, lead.” Such directness is shocking.
The parable that follows the prayer is helpful in recognizing what is happening. A man goes to a friend to ask for help, but the friend refuses. Eventually the friend gives in and provides assistance, but only because of the persistence in asking. Not much of friend! While this doesn’t meet modern concepts of friendship, it would have been even more shocking to Jesus disciples. Refusing hospitality to a friend would be a terrible misstep. Jesus goes on to broaden the idea to parents giving gifts to their children, and explaining that God gives much sweeter gifts than a parent can give. The explanation is that those direct requests to “give, forgive, and lead” will not only be met, they will be met beyond our wildest expectations. That is Good News!