“The Challenges of the Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6: 9-13) was the inspiring June 22nd sermon at Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. It was delivered by Rev. Dr. Reinerio Arce, an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian-Reformed Church of Cuba (Iglesia Presbiteriana-Reformada de Cuba) and the Rector of Seminario de Evangelico de Teologia (Evangelical Theological Seminary) in Matanzas, Cuba.
“The Lord’s Prayer is something we repeat in all our worship, but when we pray, we repeat the words, but we don’t think about them. It is one of the most challenging things Jesus taught us. It is not a simple prayer. It is a commitment. It is a confession. It is a challenge for all of us and for His disciples at that moment.”
“’Our Father in heaven.’ We use a plural. It is not ‘my’ Father; it is ‘our Father.’ That means we have brothers and sisters. We are acknowledging that the people beside us here in the church are our brothers and sisters. Not only that, all persons in the world are our brothers and sisters. We all are His children. We have to think about and care about all of our brothers and sisters, like the big family of God. It is a commitment to think about, to care for, to be worried about all of our brothers and sisters. This is the first big challenge of this prayer.”
“’Hallowed be your name’ means God is holy for us, is very special for us and has a very important place in our life. We are confessing to God that He is very special for us and has a very important place in our life all the time. Too often we treat God as special only on Christmas and Easter. Do we really practice that? Do we just remember Him only when we have problems? This is very challenging.”
“’Your Kingdom come.’ The prayer goes deeper.We don’t go to the Kingdom. The Kingdom comes to us. It is also a commitment. As Paul says, we have to be collaborators or co-workers with God to make this world what He wants for us. We are committing to help Him, to be His hands and voice to help build this world. We are willing to take all the challenges in life to help Him, to sacrifice for Him.”
“’Your will be done.’ That is difficult. We often ask for what we want, not what God wants. When God does not do what we want, we often say God does not answer our prayer. Maybe His silence is His response to our prayer. We have to be open to the will of God. When you are planning your life for your future, God is laughing at you. He is the one who has the plans for our lives. We have to be willing to accept His plans for us.”
“’Give us this day, our daily bread.’ Again, the plural: ‘our’ daily bread. It does not say give me my daily bread. This means we have to be concerned about bread for all of our brothers and sisters here in Minneapolis and in my country and all over the world. Too many people die of hunger. Many people are needed to work for His kingdom. We need to be concerned about bread for all. We are committing ourselves to work not only for our personal bread, but for bread for all our brothers and sisters.”
“’Forgive us as we forgive others.’ This is also a very difficult challenge. We like to be forgiven, but we do not like to forgive. We thank God for his grace. But Jesus is teaching us to forgive, to understand why our brothers and sisters hurt us. We have to be willing to learn, to be open in love.”
“’Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’ Or ‘Do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.’ What are the temptations? What are the times of trial? They are in this prayer. We are asking God to liberate us from the temptation of not recognizing our brothers and sisters, of not recognizing that we are all members of the family of God. We are asking God to liberate us from the temptation of forgetting God, of not having God in the first place in our lives. We are asking God to help us from wanting to have our will be first, to help us forgive others. We are praying to God to liberate us from the temptation of indulging our own accumulation and not helping our brothers and sisters.”
“For all of us, when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, let us remember we are committing ourselves in a very strong way to be His disciples.”
*Transcript of audio recording of sermon.