Today’s scriptures are both convicting and reassuring at the same time. In Galatians, Paul jumps on some early Christian leaders for the prejudice being shown between the circumcised and the uncircumcised Christians. Paul points out the hypocrisy and tries to bring them back in line with the truth of the Gospel. The psalmist proclaims, “Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.” Not just the corner of the world where everyone is like us. In Luke, the disciples, seeing Jesus praying, ask him to teach them how to pray. And Jesus gives us the Lord ’s Prayer.
In ways, it’s nice to know that the early Christians, some of whom had actually seen Jesus, were as goofed up as those of us who follow in their footsteps 2000 years later. It’s also nice to know that, when the disciples were seeking help and guidance, Jesus gave it freely.
I have a sign in my Sunday School room that says, “Everyone is a child of God and should be treated as such.” Easy to say, hard to do. Prejudice is one of those sins that seems to creep up on us. We think we’re obeying Christ’s command to love our neighbor and then, all of a sudden, we’re eyeing our neighbor with suspicion. They don’t act like us. They don’t look like us. They don’t talk like us. I’ve found this in myself with people of Middle Eastern descent. When I see someone who looks Middle Eastern or is wearing some identifying clothing, I find myself eyeing them with suspicion. I’m sure this is a result of all the media coverage of the violence going on in the Middle East, but that’s no excuse. And it bothers me greatly. I want to obey God’s commands and prejudice is definitely not one of the traits I want to pass on to my children. So, once I had analyzed my problem, I set about trying to fix myself. Positive thoughts. Be more positive about people. I thought if I was just more aware of my feelings about people, I could control them better. There was an exercise in frustration. I stewed and fretted over my inability to fix this problem. Never once did I think to pray about it. I’m not sure why. Jesus makes it perfectly clear that prayer is part of the solution.
It was made clear to me a few weeks ago. My fourth grader, Nathanael, had gotten braces on his teeth. He hadn’t had the braces for more than a week when my youngest came rushing into the house shouting that Nattie was hurt. For Seth to come and get me, I knew someone was truly hurt. Sure enough, Nattie had taken a ball to the mouth and was bleeding and crying. I brought Nattie in the house, sat him down and asked to see his mouth. Despite his crying and bleeding, he had both hands clamped over his mouth and he did not want me to touch his mouth. I tried to move a hand and he shrieked like I was killing him. Finally, I said, “Nattie, if you want me to help you, you’ve got to let go.” I’ve thought about that a lot the last few weeks. I’ve wondered how many times God has said that to me and I haven’t heard. Since that time I have confessed my sin and asked forgiveness. And I have prayed for those who were the object of my prejudice. That way, two people were blessed.
What a gift. What an incredibly powerful gift Jesus gives us. The Lord’s Prayer is simple, powerful, challenging, freeing, guiding. A loving and reassuring blessing to each of us from Christ. My prayer this day would be for all of us who think we can do it ourselves. That we would remember the gift and power of prayer.
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