Murmuring God’s Word

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“Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.   Give us each day our daily bread and

forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,

and do not subject us to the final test.” 

 

Did Jesus speak these words prophetically into existence?

Or did Jesus improvise on existing synagogue prayers (Qaddish) or the  Eighteen Benedictions?  Both Jewish prayers bear an uncanny similarity with Jesus’ prayer.   Since the dating of the Qaddish and the Eighteen Benedictions are problematic, a better source is Proverbs 30:7-9:  “Two things I ask of you, Lord do not refuse me before I die:  Keep falsehood and lies far from me;   give me neither poverty nor riches,  but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal,  and so dishonor the name of my God.”     

Agur’s prayer for daily bread is an easy match with “Give us Our Daily Bread”  but what about the last phrase, “or become poor and steal and so dishonor the name of my God?”  Baptist Prof. Rick Byargeon explains : 

The poverty-stricken person is not simply grabbing an object that does not belong to him. He is in effect “seizing the name of God.  Therefore the verb  is used to personify the theological consequence of stealing, which is a profaning of God’sname. Since stealing is mentioned in Lev 19:11-12 as an act that “profanes”  God’s name.” (Byargeon RW. Echoes of Wisdom in the Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:9-13). Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. 1998;41(3):353-365.

Jesus confirms His source with a story.

In the parable that follows Jesus’ teaching on the Lord’s prayer (cf. Luke 11:5-8), He spins a story about bread and desperation:

“And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,  for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.”

For the Jew, bread was the main course.  Even the neighbor eventually gave his”friend” bread, because of the prospect of being shamed.    One neighbor is “embarrassed at his own inability to provide food for the hospitality needs of a friend who had unexpectedly arrived from a journey? In every culture, the bonds of friendship involve the readiness to be put out for one’s friends (who can be expected to return the favor (see Gen 18:1–8; Heb 13:2),”  Nolland, J. (1993). Luke 9:21–18:34 (Vol. 35B, p. 626). Dallas: Word, Incorporated).   The sleeping neighbor for the same reason, “the possibility of being embarrassed.”

The point of the parable?  When we ask neighbors who close to us, we have God whose door is always open (cf. Rev. 3:20) whose motivation is always pure.  The parable also teaches us the importance of adapting God’s word in prayer.

Prayer is Adapting God’s word tour life 

Have you thought, “It is vain to serve God, and what do we profit by keeping his command? The proud are blessed and the wicked prosper and even throw it in God’s face” (cf. Mal. 3:13-20).   Of course, we have.  But there is good news.  God keeps a record book of those who fear God and keep His commandments.   What should the godly person do during the darkness?

Instead of murmuring in disbelief,  a believer should murmur God’s word.  

Psalm 1 promises:  “Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked Nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, But delights in the law of the LORD and meditates on his law day and night.”    A righteous man will “read to himself in a low tone (meditates is lit. ‘murmurs’) or recite from memory. cf. Dt. 17:19; Jos. 1:8). (cf. Bruce, F. F. (1979). New International Bible commentary (p. 557). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House). ”

What happens when you murmur God’s word?  God’s word becomes a part of us.  Scripture and prayer become one.

Righteous men live life starting at the end.   The kingdom is now but we know what happens at life’s end, the final test.   Psalm 1 anticipates when the books will be opened: “Not so the wicked, not so; they are like chaff which the wind drives away. For the LORD watches over the way of the just, but the way of the wicked vanishes.”

Like anything worthwhile,  the Lord’s prayer and Psalm 1 requires a lifetime of discipline.   God’s bread (i.e. His word) might be a best seller but its difficult to open up and read but the result is an eternity worth of bread.   Augustine in his Tractate on John 6 writes:

The barley of bread is so formed that we get at its pith with difficulty; for the pith is covered in a coating of the husk, and the husk itself tenacious and closely adhering, so as to be stripped off with labor. Such is the letter of the Old Testament, invested in a covering of carnal sacraments: but yet, if we get at its pith, it feeds and satisfies us. Thanks be to Him. He has fulfilled by Himself what was promised in the Old Testament. And He bade the loaves to be broken; in the breaking, they are multiplied. Nothing is truer. For when those five books of Moses are expounded, how many books have they made by being broken up, as it were; that is, by being opened and laid out?

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