Beyond the Manger: December 11, 2015

Matthew 6:5-14 (NRSV)

5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.[a]7 “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9 “Pray then in this way:

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.

10     Your kingdom come.

Your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

11     Give us this day our daily bread.[b]

12     And forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13     And do not bring us to the time of trial,[c]

but rescue us from the evil one.[d]

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you;

Matthew 6:5-14 (The Voice)

5 Likewise, when you pray, do not be as hypocrites who love to pray loudly at synagogue or on street corners—their concern is to be seen by men. They have already earned their reward. 6 When you pray, go into a private room, close the door, and pray unseen to your Father who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not go on and on, excessively and strangely like the outsiders; they think their verbosity will let them be heard by their deities. 8 Do not be like them. Your prayers need not be labored or lengthy or grandiose—for your Father knows what you need before you ever ask Him.

9 Your prayers, rather, should be simple, like this:

Our Father in heaven,

let Your name remain holy.

10     Bring about Your kingdom.

Manifest Your will here on earth,

as it is manifest in heaven.

11     Give us each day that day’s bread—no more, no less—

12     And forgive us our debts

as we forgive those who owe us something.

13     Lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

[But let Your kingdom be,

and let it be powerful

and glorious forever. Amen.

Devotional Content

How many times do you think you have spoken the words of the Lord’s Prayer?  For some it will be a fairly new experience while others might say they have engaged these words a thousand times.  So, here is the bottom line, if you are fresh to the faith or if you have been walking with the Lord for a generation…the blessing of this prayer is still alive and well.

When the shepherds came to Bethlehem they saw the child in the manger.  The angels were singing Glory to God and even the animals of the barn were connected to the moment.  In that moment, the unspoken invitation was to be thankful.  It was a moment of blessing that was about to resound throughout the region and ultimately echo around the globe.  The world changed that day.

Now, as an adult, Jesus gathers his followers on a hillside where they ask him to teach them how to give thanks through the act of prayer.  It wasn’t that they did not know how to pray.  It wasn’t that they had no experience with prayer.  But they wanted to hear it from the lips of the master.  So he taught them.

The manger experience resonates in the words of the prayer.  Give thanks to God.  Honor the name of the one who gives you life.  Be connected in right relationship with God and with others.  Receive and distribute the gift of forgiveness.  And be reconciled in every area of life.

Say it with me now and give thanks, “Our Father, who art in heaven…….


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