March 7, 2022
Text: Matthew 6:5-14
“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. 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. “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. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “Pray then in this way: Our Father 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 bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Devotional: New Testament scholar John Dominic Crossan writes the following in his book, The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of the Lord's Prayer:
"Over the last twenty years I have been in the air about every week to lecture at different churches in Canada and the United States. And every week I roam airport gates — or even airport lounges — in search of those elusive outlets as I wait for planes that are on time, late, or cancelled. I even carry a three-way plug so I can share with others whose outlet search has already been successful. I need electricity to charge my computer, which is, by the way, an Apple, which I chose initially because the Bible proclaims that 'those who look through the windows see dimly' (Eccl. 12:3).
In traveling, therefore, I think a lot about electricity, about how to find it and connect with it. I think about how incredibly powerful my MacBook Pro is, and yet how absolutely dependent it is on getting its battery regularly charged. And, in that process, I have found my metaphor, my generative, constitutive mega-metaphor, for prayer. In that metaphor we are all laptops, and prayer is about empowerment by participation in and collaboration with God.
Think about electricity as a metaphor or symbol for God. Do not respond that electricity is only a metaphor or just a symbol, because the alternative for the mystery of an invisible God is always some other metaphor or some different symbol. But tread carefully here, because metaphors create dreams and symbols create visions.
This God-as-Electricity is always there, whether discovered or not. Even when found, my human freedom allows me to connect or not connect. It never forces itself upon me. I need it without its needing me.
Furthermore, God-as-Electricity is equally available to all comers. You do not have to merit it by your action or deserve it by your character. You can be rich or poor, young or old, gay or straight, female or male, or anything else you can imagine.
Finally, God-as-Electricity works just as well for game and movie players, cell phones, and digital assistants; it even works equally well for Apples and PCs. All we laptops have to do is find an outlet and plug ourselves in; empowerment is the free gift of God-as-Electricity."
Prayer: Holy God, keep working in us to get us "plugged in" to a deeper relationship with you, and cleanse us from things that turn our attention from you. Amen.
Work Cited: Crossan, John Dominic. The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of the Lord's Prayer. (New York: HarperCollins, 2010), 9-10.