‘Teach us how to pray’ was the cry of Jesus’ disciples (Luke 11:1). Jesus responded by sharing with them the Lord’s prayer. This has become a well-known liturgy – recited in churches and homes around the world. But have we become so accustomed to it, that we forget how revolutionary it is? Rachael Adams reflects on this powerful prayer and how it relates to people in poverty.
Let us begin by thinking about home.
For many of us, we have been in an enforced lockdown for months and have spent most of that in our homes. We have had a long time to dwell on what home means to us.
Whether we think about our family, our pets, or our possessions, what we call home is central to our lives and our wellbeing. It connects us to this world – it’s where we spend our time and our energy. If we’re fortunate, it is a safe, comforting place.
In the Bible we are shown a picture of home through the original description of creation (Genesis 1-2) and new creation (Revelation 7:9, 21:1-4, 7:16, 21:4). It is a place of belonging and relationship – with God, with others and with wider creation. Home is intended to be a place where relationships flourish and there is no lack or unmet need within creation. People have what they need to live safely.
But, around the world there are 79.5 million people who have been forced to flee their homes because of conflict and poverty. If home is a place of belonging and relationship, then the destruction of home is a violation of this. It breaks and prevents the relationships that we were made for. This causes profound damage to individuals as they lose an integral part of themselves. Their relationships with other people, with God and wider creation become harder to sustain, let alone deepen.
So, how can we be good neighbours and love those whose homes have been destroyed? Those whose lives are now so much harder because they have no safe refuge. One way we can help is to turn to the Lord’s prayer. In it, we can find a radical way to pray and lift up our global brothers and sisters in need.
Power in prayer
Below is the Lord’s prayer. It is found in Matthew and Luke’s gospels. The last lines were thought to be added shortly after, but are not included in the Bible.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and forever.
To understand the kind of ‘home’ that we are seeking here on earth, we need to think about what it means for the kingdom to come. What does it mean to be at home in the kingdom of heaven, while on earth?
Within God’s kingdom, relationships are restored and reconciled. So, if we want to see the kingdom come, to see people able to experience ‘home’ as God desires, then we must seek to see relationships restored and people flourishing in all areas of their lives.
Jesus links the fulfilment of people’s practical needs (our daily bread) with their emotional and spiritual needs too (forgive us our debts). He is advocating for people’s entire wellbeing and is urging us to do the same – to take our petitions to the Father.
So, what is home?
Praying the Lord’s prayer is a revolutionary cry to care for our neighbour. When we pray ‘your kingdom come’, we are asking for people to have their home restored to them. This means:
- People are able to be spiritually restored, to worship and grow in their relationship with God.
- People are able to be emotionally restored, to live safely, to recover and grow their sense of self, dignity, and health – enabling them to express the image of God that they bear.
- People are able to build positive relationships with others, individually and in groups.
- People are able to build a healthy relationship with their environment, for example in having access to land or the fruits of the land, or to clean water, or fresh air.
- People are able to be a part of their communities and societies, in religious, social, economic, political and ecological aspects of life.
- People have what they need in order to enable the quality of life, security and relationships described as a part of being ‘at home’.
Together, we can make a difference to the lives of people around the world who have lost their homes and believe they have lost all hope.
Read the Lord’s prayer again. As you do, think about the millions of people forced from their homes by conflict and poverty. It may help to read it aloud. Pray this prayer for them and lift them up to God, who listens and cares.
Why not integrate the Lord’s prayer into your prayer life? It may help to print a copy of it out and stick it somewhere noticeable – near the front door, on your fridge, or by your bed. Or you could take a snapshot of it and save it as your phone background. This can then act as a gentle reminder to keep praying for your global brothers and sisters – to see them released from poverty and reaching their God-given potential.