Over the past couple of months in our morning services we have been looking at the Lord’s Prayer. That’s the one that we used to say in school assemblies at Primary School (it was a church school) and where we knew the rhythm better than the words; the one that we say at weddings and funerals because it is a familiar prayer; the one that many Christians can recite without really thinking about it; the one that I had eschewed from saying often in church because of those reasons.
I have changed my mind on this, and now the Lord’s Prayer is part of my daily routine (I say it at 11). I have rediscovered the depth and breadth of the prayer. I have found that regular recital does lead to familiarity but that leads to security not contempt.
And perhaps because of this I am finding that aspects of the prayer are constantly coming up in all sorts of places. Sermons on Bible passages and subjects other than the Lord’s Prayer naturally invoke aspects of the prayer. Daily activity leads to me remember parts of the prayer.
That happened to me this morning. I was awake earlier than I had intended and was pondering. It would be wrong to say that I was praying, but I was thinking in a God-orientated way (which for purists is not related to prayer, but in my mind is at the very least a sibling!). I was musing on the parts of the prayer that speak of us forgiving as we are forgiven, and of us not being led into temptation.
The thought occurred to me that one of the reasons why so many of us humans end up doing things that we regret, for which we need to ask forgiveness, is that we have a very short-term view of things. A hedonistic approach to life suggests that we try to get as much pleasure out of life as we can and never mind the consequences. That approach (to a greater or lesser extent) seems to lie behind a lot of ‘falls from grace’.
The con sequence is ‘Go for it, enjoy yourself: don’t worry about getting caught, don’t worry about what will happen… just do it.’
High profile ‘celebrities’ have been convicted of sexual offences. Why did they do it? Why did they risk their career, family, reputation? Because they were living in the thrill of the moment and never mind the con sequences.
Alcohol-fuelled injuries (it is one of the leading causes of accidents and fights) are the unexpected and unconsidered con sequences of enjoying the moment and over-indulgence: “Wouldn’t it be funny to dance on that table?” is not something we often think when sober!
So what’s the answer? A puritanical approach that condemns all pleasure? No – God has created us with senses to be stimulated, and with the ability to enjoy life. He invented adrenaline and seratonin and the like. Jesus even changed water into wine so was probably not teetotal.
It seems to me that perhaps we should listen to his Spirit a bit more – that little voice that asks us ‘are you sure about that?’ when we are tempted. It’s quite easy to ignore him, but it’s also quite easy to listen to him if we want to. If we ask him to (and the Lord’s Prayer encourages us to do that) he will speak, but whether we listen to him still comes down to our choices – short term thrills may have long term con sequences.
Be blessed, be a blessing.
The following pome (sic) is another example of me trying out irony…
Who’s responsible for ‘extreme sports’?
someone must be to blame.
Who first thought it was a good idea
to throw themselves off a bridge
with their feet tied to an elastic band?
And who decided it would be fun to hurtle down mountains
on a tea tray?
Or jump off them with a parachute?
Which allegedly sane individual imagined that climbing sheer rock faces
without so much as a safety net
was a bit of a laugh?
Was there a committee responsible for the idea that riding a bicycle down
tracks shunned by mountain goats
would be kinda neat?
What made someone think,
“Let’s ride the rocky rapids
in a flimsy rubber boat?”
And who said it has become cool to pull terrifying tricks
on a roller skate strapped to a plank?
Who’s to blame for this seemingly endless stream
of new ways to nearly kill yourself, yet live to tell the tale?
Whoever gave us adrenaline and told us to live life to the max
is surely responsible
for all our irresponsibility.
© 2003 Nick Lear