(The weekly GPS Small Group Guide can be downloaded in .PDF format from the individual sermon page, found at http://www.cor.org/worship in Sermon Archives)
The Lord and His Prayer
A Grow-Pray-Study guide for small groups
This guide uses the Scripture readings from the daily “GPS” study guide. Group members may read the daily readings before the group meeting, or read the verses aloud when the group meets. The group may subdivide into two or three smaller groups, each discussing a set of the daily readings and the matching questions on page 2, or the entire group may discuss those questions together. We pray that, whatever pattern of study you choose, the Holy Spirit will weave God’s Word into the life and heart of each group member.
Hosea 11:1-4; Isaiah 49:14-16
There were powerful assumptions about the nature of life in our world behind Jesus’ opening phrase in the Lord’s Prayer. Speaking of “Our Father” reminded us that, beyond all of our surface differences, we humans are all part of the same family. And, as today’s readings show, the Hebrew Scriptures ascribed the very best parental qualities (father AND mother) to God.
1 Peter 2:9-10
Jesus launched his public ministry, Matthew said, by announcing “the good news of the kingdom” (Matthew 4:23). The “present tense” character of Jesus’ message is important for those of us who’ve tended to think of God’s Kingdom solely in future terms. To pray for the coming of the Kingdom is not just a wispy, wistful dream of an idealized future. It is a claim of our true citizenship here and now, and a way of bowing to God as our true king.
Jesus faced the temptation to turn stones into bread, to meet his immediate physical want no matter the spiritual cost. In answer, he quoted Deuteronomy 8:3, which was about Israel’s wilderness experience with manna (cf. Exodus 16:14-21): “People don’t live on bread alone. No, they live based on whatever the Lord says.” That story clearly lay behind this part of the Lord’s Prayer. We do not ask for a lifetime supply of bread—just what we need for this day.
Luke 7:36-50, Colossians 3:12-14
Jesus told people that God forgave them, that they could really find a fresh start in life. Sadly, that outraged the religious leaders of his day. For Jesus, forgiveness was a fundamental Kingdom reality. If God did not forgive, no fallible human could have hope. But Jesus also knew that it’s really not credible to claim God’s forgiveness for ourselves if we aren’t willing to forgive others.
John 10:2-5, 11-15; Romans 8:12-14
The Lord’s Prayer is a chance for us to look at who God is, and an invitation to follow Him. The phrase “Lead us not into temptation” may seem as if we’re asking God to not take us to where trouble dwells, to keep us away from the messes of life. But God wouldn’t lead us into temptation (cf. James 1:13). This phrase serves as a promise that God will continually have our best interest in mind, and a reminder to always let God lead us
Luke 11:1-4, Matthew 6:7-15
The fact that Luke and Matthew gave different settings for the Lord’s Prayer suggests that Jesus taught this prayer to his followers often, not just on one dramatic occasion. (Many scholars believe that was the case with most of the material that we call “The Sermon on the Mount.”) Jesus didn’t mean the Lord’s Prayer to be a museum piece, framed and placed on a mantel or in a display case. It was a prayer for God’s people to weave into their lives. That makes it most fitting that at Resurrection we pray this prayer every week in worship.
To access the Family Activity suggested in this week’s GPS, download the printable GPS from http://www.cor.org/guide.
Lord God, to your will and your kingdom (not ours), we ascribe power and glory forever. Adjust our values; shepherd us throughout our lives. Thank you for your daily bread and your loving forgiveness, for filling our hearts and our minds with your kingdom. Amen.
CONNECT (5-10 minute discussion, at most)
What one or two things are most important in helping you decide what is right and wrong in your particular circumstances?
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND STUDY
NOTE: We encourage study groups to have several different Bible translations available for these readings. Reading aloud from the Common English Bible or The Message may help to clarify the meaning of some passages.
Read Hosea 11:1-4; Isaiah 49:14-16. Do you feel that God is with you as you go through your daily life? How do you picture where God’s is located—in the air, inside you or somewhere else? Do you feel as if you are part of God’s family? Who is included in God’s family? How have you felt support from other members of God’s family? How have these kinds of questions shaped or held back your spiritual life and growth?
Read Matthew 4:17-23, 1 Peter 2:9-10. Jesus personally called his disciples. Have you felt called by Christ and if so, how were you called? When we say, “Thy kingdom come”, what do you believe we are calling for? Is God’s kingdom something in the future, or is it in the here and how? Are you confident that you are a citizen of that kingdom? How did you gain that citizenship? Do you feel as if you are part of a “royal priesthood”? If so, how were you “trained” for this position? In what ways have you served as an ambassador of that kingdom?
Read Isaiah 55:1-7; Matthew 5:6. Have you ever bought things it seemed as if you couldn’t live without, and then found that they were unsatisfying? Why is that so often true? What kinds of things are ultimately more satisfying? How does our prayer for our daily bread differ from praying for financial independence? If you have plenty of money, does that mean you do not need to turn to God daily for sustenance? Why or why not? Do you “hunger and thirst for righteousness”? What does this mean? What drives this hunger?
Read Luke 7:36-50, Colossians 3:12-14. Do you see yourself as a sinner, and therefore in need of asking God for forgiveness? Do you see Christ’s point when he said, “The one who is forgiven little loves little”? Do you see God as mainly angry about sins, as indifferent and indulgent in excusing sins, or as compassionate and forgiving when we miss the mark? What difference do you see between “excusing” and “forgiving”? Think of someone you need to forgive, even if you cannot contact them. How can we move ourselves toward forgiveness, even when we still feel hurt or angry?
Read John 10:2-5, 11-15; Romans 8:12-14. What is the point of the metaphor of the shepherd and the sheep? Is Jesus saying that we are all merely sheep? What might the wolf represent? What might the hired hand represent? Would our shepherd lead us into temptation? If not, why is this phrase part of his prayer? If in the prayer, we pause briefly after the words, “Lead us…” how might that change the meaning of the line? In Romans, what is the significance of Paul calling us “brothers and sisters”? Where has God been leading you lately?
Read Luke 11:1-4, Matthew 6:7-15. How meaningful is the Lord’s Prayer to you? What kind of impact should that prayer have on our daily lives as Christians? What steps can we and will we take to detach our lives and affections from this seen but temporary world, and to not only pray but live out Jesus’ prayer as citizens of God’s Kingdom?
From last week: This last week, did you prayerfully consider your answer to the five questions Pastor Hamilton asked at the end of his sermon? Did anything change in your life as a result of answering those questions? Please consider sharing your answers while finding ways you can support one another as a group in making those changes.
FOR ADDITIONAL INSIGHT
From Pastor Jeff Kirby’s sermon, July 6, 2014:
The Lord’s Prayer is found two times in the Gospels, once in Luke 11 and the other, the text we will use for today’s lesson, in Matthew 6, right in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount. The settings are a bit different, and the words vary slightly, but the two are essentially the same prayer. Luke’s version is a little shorter. Matthew’s was adjusted for use in public worship. You will notice that the phrase “For thine is the Kingdom and power and glory” is not in either gospel record of the prayer. That phrase was attached later to help it flow in the worship service and is lifted from I Chronicles 29:11.
There are two ways we can use the Lord’s Prayer. One is to recite it just as it was given. We have historical evidence of this practice all the way back to the second century where a manuscript known as the Didache instructs the early Christians to pray this prayer three times every day. The other is to see the Lord’s Prayer as a model, a template for our prayers….
The prayer is in two main sections. Notice the first petitions focus on the word “Your” as in “Your name” and “your Kingdom” while the final three highlight the word “us.” The first portion of the prayer helps us focus on God, His name, His kingdom, His will. The second is the prayers for our needs, for daily bread/provisions, forgiveness and our need for protection. This already helps us to learn how to pray, placing God’s agenda at the forefront of our prayers, then following with presenting our needs before Him….
1. Adoration: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”
It is only because Jesus Christ, the unique, one and only Son of God invites us into a deepening personal relationship with God through himself that we dare address God as Father. Jesus said: “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27) We can begin our prayer by addressing God as Father only because we have been invited into a relationship with God through His Son. Because we are joined to Christ by faith we have been given the incomprehensible privilege of calling God “Our Father.” Jesus includes us in his own intimate, familial approach to God. And so with deep humility and respect we address God as “Father.”…
The second phrase, “Hallowed be thy name,” requires a clarifying note. For the Hebrew people, and for the Christian, God’s name is very sacred. The third of the Ten Commandments reads: “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” (Exodus 20:7)
Hallowed is not a word heard today, unless it is in this context. To “Hallow” means to “honor as holy, to greatly revere or respect.” God’s name is indicative of His character and person and is to be held in honor. I don’t want to go on a rant here, but please be careful in how you use God’s name. Jewish people still revere the name of God. When reading on a Jewish web site this week I noticed this exhortation: “This page contains the name of God. If you print this page please treat that paper with great respect.” You get the idea. I hear too many people, whether on the golf course or the church conference room says, “Oh God,” and not in a prayerful way….
“Who art in heaven.” Heaven, in this context, is not some far off place. It is right there, the place where God is close by. Heaven is where God is in full control, where everything is going God’s way. Don’t think geographic distance, think dimension of existence.
2. Petition: May your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
The Lord’s Prayer is a very Jewish prayer in its form and essential content. The first petitions concerning the Hallowing of God’s name and the prayer for the Kingdom to come to earth parallel the Jewish prayers known as the Kaddish almost exactly. The Kaddish is a hymn of praise to God found in the Jewish prayer service. The central theme is the magnification and sanctification of God’s name. This prayer later became what Jewish people would pray for their loved ones after their deaths. It reads:
“Magnified and hallowed be his great name in the world which he created according to his will, and may he make his kingship sovereign in your lifetime and in your days.” This is also the prayer that concluded the synagogue worship service….
Jesus began his ministry with the words, “The time has come, the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15) When he taught he said, “The kingdom of God is like…” When he healed the sick and cast out demons he said it was evidence that the kingdom of God had come. Everything that Jesus said and did was focused on this essential topic of the kingdom of God. So it should not be a surprise that he also instructed us to pray, “May your kingdom come and your will be done.”
3. Intercession: “Give us today our daily bread.”
Praying for our daily bread seems almost silly. As any first grader can tell you, our bread doesn’t come from God, it comes from the Hen House or the Price Chopper. For some, the very idea that we would bother God at all bringing to His attention our desire for bread seems not very spiritual….But Jesus did not depreciate our need for physical “stuff.” His ministry of healing the sick and feeding the multitudes illustrates that God cares about these things too. That we can call God “Our Father” reminds us that, like earthly fathers, God cares that we have what we need to negotiate life. This part of the prayer comes out of the Book of Proverbs: “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches, But give me only my daily bread.” Proverbs 30:8
4. Forgiveness: “Forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors.”
I remember when some of my Presbyterian friends learned I was joining the staff of this church, they were very concerned for my salvation. One sweet elderly lady pulled me aside and warned me that “they say trespasses over there in the Lord’s Prayer” as if that might put at risk my eternal salvation….
Why do some traditions use “debts” and others “trespasses?” Because the Bible does!…The idea of “debts” was an Aramaic use of the word “debts” in a moral sense. This is not an issue either way! It is a prayer for forgiveness. Whether you confess your “debts”, “trespasses” or “sins” the reality is we all need forgiveness.
5. Resistance: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
This petition is a request for protection. Again this has a near exact parallel in the Jewish Talmud: “Bring me not into sin, or into iniquity, or into temptation. And may the good inclination have sway over me and let not the evil inclination have sway over me.”
The original word used here is the Greek is not a religious word and could be translated “testing.” This can get a little confusing. We read at times that God was “testing” certain people and yet we read in James, “For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt any person…” (James 1:13) There appears to be a fine line between “tempting” and “testing.” There may be times when God tests our hearts, our love, but it would not be good to think of God as tempting us, certainly never with evil.
Reflecting on the Lord’s Prayer
The Lord’s Prayer has shaped the lives of Jesus’ followers ever since he first taught it to his disciples. Rooted in Jesus’ relationship to the Father, the prayer encompasses the whole of life, inviting us to pray for God’s presence and power to change the world and to change us.
The Lord’s Prayer is found in two versions in the New Testament (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4). In Matthew’s Gospel, it sits alongside Jesus’ teaching on giving and fasting, while in Luke’s Gospel, it is followed by Jesus’ teaching on the importance of persistence and faith in prayer. Although Luke’s shorter version may be closer to Jesus’ original prayer, Matthew’s longer version fills out the details and is closest to that used in churches today.
For those familiar with the Lord’s Prayer, it is easy to rush through the words without always grasping what they mean. This short guide, then, briefly explores its meaning and offers prompts for praying with each clause.
The prayer begins where it started – by turning our eyes on the God whom we address, and so orienting our lives around that reality. The acknowledgement that the “kingdom, the power, and the glory” belong to God puts things in perspective. Although it is a mystery why some prayers are answered and others seem not to be, God is ultimately in control. God can be trusted.
Far More at the source: http://www.methodist.org.uk/media/751363/dd-explore-devotion-the-lords-prayer-0113.pdf
During this next week, begin each day by praying the Lord’s Prayer and reflect on the meaning of each phrase. Prayerfully consider how you might alter your life so as to more closely follow the guidance the prayer offers. Next week, please share with the group how this process affected you.