Our Way Home – Session 1 | Study of the Lord’s Prayer

(upbeat music) -: Hello, I’m Dan Paavola, the author of “Our Way Home.” Thank you very much for joining me in this CPH FaithCourse. I hope that the book and this course are a blessing to you, and that you find yourself praying The Lord’s Prayer more often and with greater meaning. Now, I know you’ve just received a copy of your book, or you’ve just been introduced to the course for the first time. I want to begin by setting up the course and the book for you. Before you even have a chance to dive into the content, I wanted to set the tone for our journey together. We’ll preview the steps that the journey takes as we go from heaven to Earth and back to heaven again. But before we get started with that, I want you all to take some time in filling out your individual planning guide. Whether you’re doing this study with a group or by yourself, you can use this guide to help you keep on track. For each of the sessions, fill out the date, location, time, and when will I read sections. Of all of these, the most important section is the section, “When Will I Read?” Setting apart some time each week to go through the required reading will be helpful as you embark on this study. My advice for you, find a time that you will be able to keep. Find a time that is going to work well for you, and stick to it. Now that you know your task, spend the next five minutes filling out your planning guide. (tranquil music) The theme we have for the prayer is that of home. Next to the words, “I love you,” I think that the words, “I’m going home,” might be the warmest words we ever say. But we can say those words in such different ways. I’m going home is either our contented sigh or our determined vow. These words comfort us. As a child, you cried, “I’m going home,” when you skinned your knee. Later in life, no matter what had happened, you could always go home. I hope it’s still the same for you today. Come home on a dark night. You don’t need the lights. The floor creaks exactly where you know it well. Your old chair welcomes you and it never asks where you’ve been. You say, “I’m going home,” because home takes you in. But these words also excite us. “Tomorrow, I’m going home,” is a thought that keeps you up all night. In the morning, pack in a rush, and toss your bags and clothes into the car. Who cares how you look? You’re going home. Start the engine, put the car in drive, and count every mile as better than the one before. You’re going home. I’m going home is the comfort of The Lord’s Prayer. The prayer reminds us that heaven is our Father’s home, and he has brought us to His home through His son. We pray the prayer when it seems no one on Earth listens to us or cares. But we pray knowing that our voices are already heard in heaven. Our Father welcomes us as His children. In His kingdom, he remembers us and draws us to Himself. So this prayer is our comfort, our reminder of home. The prayer and our heavenly home are also our excitement. We’re children running for home when we pray. We may not know every detail in heaven’s blueprint. We know that our Father is there. We pray because, astonishingly, our Father hears us in heaven. Prayer reminds us that the home we’ve never seen is being filled with our voices every time we pray. As distant as heaven seems from us today, we don’t have to wait a lifetime for our voices to come alongside our Father. I’m going home isn’t a distant someday-hope, it is the right-now truth that happens as we pray, “Our Father.” The connection prayer gives us with our heavenly home is a little like a child coming home from a new school to a brand new house. Several years ago, in late August, my wife and I and our three children moved to the small town of Cedar Grove, Wisconsin. The first Monday after our weekend move, our children started their new school. Since we were waiting to close on our house, we were living in a nearby motel. When someone asked our children where they lived, they didn’t say the Super 8, even though that was where we were that week. Instead, they said the gray house by the library. It was a house they had barely seen, which they wouldn’t live in for another five days, but to them, that gray house was home. Finally, on Friday, they got to come out of school to their new real home. No one has to go back to the motel. For the first time, they could really say, “Let’s go home.” We’re all those children. We’re all living on Earth like a temporary motel for however many years God grants us. Heaven is the home we haven’t yet seen, but in the meantime, we reach it in our prayers. The Lord’s prayer assures us that we are part of the company of heaven, with all those who stand before our Father. When we pray, we’re children running down the road to home. Best of all, we know that our voices have already gotten there, like the shouts of children as they run up the sidewalk. We may not have actually crossed the threshold yet, but we see our Father by faith, and we know He hears us as we’re coming. So when we pray The Lord’s Prayer, we’re grateful children going home. And here’s more good news. It’s a solid path that we’re walking. This journey of The Lord’s Prayer is like walking on rocks on a beach. Harrington Beach State Park in Belgium, Wisconsin is along the shore of Lake Michigan. The beach is mostly sand, with a few patches of small rocks. However, there’s one stretch where the shore turns to solid rock, and when the lake level is just right, you can step from rock to rock. At first glance, the rocks appear to be distinct, separate, but then you look deeper and see that they’re actually one, long, flat, rock, a shelf of stone just below the water. Don’t worry when you take that walk. That rock you’re stepping on isn’t going anywhere, no matter how much weight you put on it. You might not see the connection between each step, but the stone isn’t moving, because it is all one rock. The Lord’s prayer is that solid stone. The petitions might look like separate pieces with little connection to one another, but they’re all of one stone, connected below the surface of our first glance. It’s The Lord’s Prayer, the Lord’s own journey from heaven to Earth and heaven again. The prayer is itself an unbroken, solid path, which can’t slip out from under us. We can step through each petition with all our weight, from one absolute and secure stone to the next. All the storms and waves of Lake Michigan won’t move that shoreline rock. And all the storms and waves of your life won’t move or break the rock of this prayer. You can put all the weight of your life on each petition, each step, they’ll lead you home to the Father. So we might see The Lord’s Prayer as our way home, children running to their Father, knowing that he is in heaven, and their voices reach Him. We’re on solid ground as each step, each petition, leads to the next on a solid journey. But the walk with the Father isn’t just a straight line. We’re going from heaven to Earth and back to heaven again in our thoughts. In order to understand these connected parts of the prayer, our book has a central diagram. We want to see the breadth of the journey from heaven to Earth and back to heaven again. The Lord’s prayer is a long path which begins in heaven with the opening words of the introduction, “Our Father who art in heaven.” We can see by faith God surrounded by the saints and angels in glory. Then, the first petition remains on this level, praising God with the saints and angels. “Hallowed be Thy name.” We would be glad to stay on this level, forget our problems, and join the choir singing to God. So on our diagram, we begin, and can linger on the upper left with our Father in heaven, and praise Him with a choir in heaven. But we can’t stay here forever, because the prayer moves us on. The second and third petitions begin our transition downward. Imagine the path or line that represents the journey as beginning an angled, almost reluctant stepping downward that matches the phrases, “Thy kingdom come. “Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven.” In this transition from heaven to Earth, we’re asking the Father to do His work on Earth as he has done it in heaven. The one who prays is like a child asking her father to come with her to her room because it is too dark and he’ll bring the light. Or she has to clean her room, but there’s too much for her to do alone, and so she asks her father to come and make this room more like his own. This is our own transition between heaven and Earth in the prayer. We want our Father to come with us, to make our rooms, our lives, reflect His home. After this transition toward Earth, we now look up in the fourth and fifth petitions, and we see bread and forgiveness. Picture yourself firmly on Earth but with a clear view up to heaven. The gifts of the fourth petition come as a gentle shower, filling but now overwhelming the earth. God sends gifts of daily bread in his continuing protection of His children. The daily bread comes like a shower. Enough, but not too much. Daily bread is a just-enough shower. The fifth petition, however, asks for a lot of forgiveness. Heaven pours out a waterfall of forgiving grace so great that it overflows past the one who is forgiven. There is so much forgiveness that we can’t help but spread it to those unforgiving trespassers who surround each of us. When we pray for forgiveness, we’re asking to be soaked to the bone with forgiveness. But in that flood, don’t be swept away. The analogy of flood is helpful for the sixth petition, where we ask to be kept safe in temptation. Here we’re beginning our return in thought to heaven. We’re aching to be done with the dangers that surround us, and so we’re asking to be delivered from evil. Just as your path descended in the second and third petitions, going from heaven to Earth, here we can see ourselves going back to the Father. We ask our Father to come where we live and to straighten our lives according to His heavenly pattern. We end the prayer as children asking that he would finally lift us up out of this world, and take us to Himself. That is the triumphant feeling of the traditional conclusion, “For Thine is the kingdom, “and the power, and the glory, “forever and ever. “Amen.” Think of these words as the songs we sing and the steps we take as we ascend to Him. That flow from heaven to Earth and back to heaven again is the pattern which this book unfolds. It gives the prayer a unity within each of its parts. The individual petitions build upon one another as steps in a journey. They introduce the scenes and suggest the people and other beings we meet on this journey. We take in all of creation. We travel from the praising angels and saints who hallow God’s name to the most troubling people in our lives, those who owe us an enormous debt. We are reminded of our own frailty, but also of the protection of our rescuing God. This journey allows us, through the few words of the prayer, to take in the whole sweep of God’s creation and His works on our behalf. We step through troubled waters onto the absolutely sure rock of each petition raised up for us to follow and trust. But since this prayer is so familiar, maybe we worry that it’s a terribly worn path. After all, we’ve traveled over this same path thousands of times, and we’re certainly not the only ones to use these stones of prayer. But the beauty of a regular journey is that it balances what’s new and familiar and comforting. Think of the trips you make over and over again, such as going to work, getting the children to school, going back home to your parent’s house. You know the rhythm of every mile. You’ve named the potholes. In many ways, this road never changes. It always starts and ends in the same places, with the same turns along the way. Yet for all that’s familiar, this road is never the same. Every trip is different. The weather is never the same, day to day. That same stretch of road, in a winter blizzard, with 40-mile-an-hour winds, gives you an adventure you’ll mark on the calender. Or take the children to school, and their worries define the trip. Your own car can change these same miles. Your trustee civic stumbles home with a stuck thermostat and the temperature gauge soaring. That’s a trip you’ll remember. The journey is never the same if we have the eyes to see the differences. The Lord’s Prayer is a journey, with this same balance of familiar and new. Like our commute, it has a prescribed start and end, with its steps set by someone else. It is The Lord’s Prayer, since he gave each petition, giving us a clear beginning and end. Prayer is a reminder of the one whose sacrifices made this trip possible in the first place. The Lord’s prayer is a return to the whole work of Christ for us. The prayer impresses us with the sense that we’re traveling over the steps of the ultimate pioneer. We walk among the words of The Lord’s Prayer in awe of the one who dared to become flesh, to journey with us. Repeating His words in prayer reminds us of the sacrifice that makes our journey to the Father possible. When we pray, we follow in the furrow cut by His cross. Every word is fixed also, by His intention of bringing us home. Your journey to and from work each day always gets you home. The Lord’s prayer, despite the interruptions of our wandering thoughts brings us home relentlessly. We always begin with “Our heavenly Father,” and always end with the praise of His kingdom, power, and glory. Our worst sins can’t stop this journey from bringing us to the forgiveness of the fifth petition. Our worst fears can’t stop us from being with the Father, and he always sees us home by the end. With the familiar words of The Lord’s Prayer, we find that there’s a rhythm of change in each day’s saying of the prayer. The differences in the world around us change how we pray these words. We read about violence in the Middle East, mudslides in California, earthquakes in Japan, hurricanes, fires, floods. All of these are the coloring behind our prayer, “Thy kingdom come. “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.” That’s change in the largest sense. These are the worries you share with millions of others. But there are more immediate changes possible. The people in your family probably motivate your prayers more than any ten million in the next state over. Your prayer, “Forgive us our trespasses “as we have also forgiven those “who trespass against us,” is more pointed today when your home has that tension of unforgiven sins. “Give us this day our daily bread,” rings more fervently when your health insurance writes that they won’t cover your bill. It’s not the same prayer as yesterday, when we place it over the changing people around us. So pray The Lord’s Prayer as an everyday drive. You can take a sharp turn on any petition, tour the neighborhood of daily bread, or things needing forgiveness, and then return back to the prayer. The prayer is a street always open. Always ready to be traveled. The pattern of The Lord’s Prayer that I suggest in this book doesn’t demand an immediate or rigid following of each petition after the other. While each petition has a place, each is ready to lead you ahead or back, in thought to the neighboring petitions. This journey is short enough that at any point, you can pause, look forward or back, or take in the whole length. As I pray that His name be hallowed, I can do this because I can see His promise of forgiveness coming in the fifth petition. When I ask that He deliver me from evil, I’m remembering the glory of His name, and heaven itself, where my prayer began. The prayer as a journey is a wonderful tension between the constant and the changing, the road that is perfectly known, and the one promising something new around the bend. Let’s take this journey together as we are lead by the prayer on our way home. (tranquil music) (tranquil music) (tranquil music) (upbeat music) Now before you close with prayer and take off, pull out your individual planning guide and look at when you said you would read for session two. Next week, you’ll be looking at chapters one, two, and three. God bless your reading, and God bless you as you make the journey from heaven to Earth and heaven again, with Him.

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