I so appreciated the ending of David's sermon Sunday where he encouraged us toward bold prayers that ask God to act in alignment with his revealed goodness — with his kingdom come! It reminded me of the series we preached on prayer a few summers ago (available here), and particularly of my "more bird" sermon, perhaps my most-commented-on sermon ever. In that sermon, I told a story about my pre-verbal toddler using ASL to ask God for "more bird."
What "more bird" requests and Abraham's requests from Genesis 18 have in common is a bold unsophistication, a childlike willingness to simply ask (or even demand) what we need from God. This is the posture that Jesus invites in the Lord's Prayer, which we read on Sunday from Luke's gospel. There, Jesus makes clear that prayer isn't an eloquent public speech. It's more like a needy kid tugging at a trustworthy, asking for the practical stuff they need to get through the day. The language is direct and unfussy and short, trusting God to sort out the rest.
I love the way this prayer has been rendered in different translations. For example, the First Nations Version, an indigenous translation, brings such cultural specificity to the request for daily bread. It makes me wonder, what's our specific need, our "all the things we need for each day"?:
O Great Spirit, our Father from above,
we honor your name as sacred and holy.
Bring your good road to us,
where the beauty of your ways in the spirit-world above
is reflected in the earth below.
Provide for us day by day—
the elk, the buffalo, and the salmon.
The corn, the squash, and the wild rice.
All the things we need for each day.
Release us from the things we have done wrong,
in the same way we release others for the things done wrong to us.
Guide us away from the things that tempt us to stray from your good road,
and set us free from the evil one and his worthless ways.
Aho! May it be so!
Sarah Ruden, a Quaker scholar, translates the prayer with a refreshing gentleness; I especially love the promise of "tomorrow's loaf of bread":
Father, Let your name be spoken in holiness.
Let your kingdom arrive.
Give us day by day tomorrow’s loaf of bread,
And set us free from our offenses,
Since we ourselves have set free everyone bound to us likewise.
And do not bring us into the ordeal.
And finally, there's this beautifully simple version from Eugene Peterson's The Message:
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
Last night we shared dinner with some dear friends who live and minister in West Asia, friends we've known for many years and through many seasons of life, always with a shared longing to see God's kingdom come. At some point, my (new!!) ukulele came out, and our friend led us in singing The Lord's Prayer in Turkish, a song I'd memorized many years ago when Trent and I were praying about the possibility of moving to Turkey (a story for another day!). I'm not sure there's a more beautiful setting to the Lord's Prayer in all the earth.
The video is a little cheesy, but I encourage you to perhaps close your eyes and listen, joining your own prayers with generations of Christians who have sung this prayer through the rise and fall of empires, through persecution and hardship.
How can I pray for you? Please let me know - I'm always happy to go for a walk, chat on the phone, or meet up for coffee. We can come to the Father together and ask for what we need.