Day Eight: Wednesday, June 17th, 2020
Bible Lesson: Matthew 6:1-18
Reflection from Pastor Wayne Eberly:
“Come near ”
A woman told a really sweet story. She was telling of when she was a little girl. Her momma was a powerful presence in her life, and there was no question that the Spirit of God was active and alive in her momma’s life. Her momma radiated the glory of the Lord in all she said and did. Because of that, her momma was both beloved and a little feared. When the Spirit of the Lord is active and alive in someone’s life, you learn to treat them with reverence, respect, and a little bit of fear. The Holy Other is present in this person’s life, and that is not to be taken lightly.
One morning this woman, who is now a respected pastor with many that treat her with a similar degree of reverence, opened her momma’s bedroom door uninvited. This woman, only a small child of three at the time, came without invitation into her momma’s bedroom. She found her momma on her knees praying. This woman, just a child at the time, had stepped into the sacred space of prayer. She was not invited. Her presence might well be an interruption. Her momma noticed that her sacred space was no longer hers alone. Someone else had entered that sacred space.
But her momma did not become upset. Her momma did not become angry. Her momma just raised her head, saw her baby girl peering in, saw her baby girl watching her pray, curious about the relationship the momma had with the one who is Holy, and Wholly Other. When the momma saw her baby girl staring at her, wide eyed, aware that she had entered into sacred space, the momma raised her hand toward her daughter, pointed her finger at her daughter, and then with that pointed finger she signaled for her daughter to come near, to come by her side, to kneel with her, to join her in prayer, and to join her in worship.
Today we enter sacred space. Jesus is telling us about his Father in heaven. Jesus wants us to know his Father in heaven is our Father in heaven. Jesus is not inviting us to rush into the presence of our Father filled with a sense that our actions will make a big impression and impress others. Instead, here in the Father’s presence we find Jesus. He wants us to join him. He does not shush us, condemn us, or send us away. Jesus does not shut the door. Jesus wants us to be with him, right by his side in the presence of our Father in heaven. But there is a right way to be with our Father in heaven. It is with a reverent heart…it is with a humble heart…it is with a sincere heart…it is with a grateful heart.
This morning as you read words from Jesus about our Father in heaven, imagine the Son of God seeing that we are watching…seeing that we are waiting…seeing that we long to be in the presence of our Father in the way that Jesus is in the presence of his Father. Imagine Jesus raising his hand toward us…toward you…pointing his finger at us…at you…and signaling for us…for you to come near, to come by his side, to kneel with him, and to join him in prayer…to join him in the presence of our Father in heaven. When you finish reading this morning, join Jesus as he leads us in prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven…
“Prayer is a particular kind of language. Not all language is of the same kind. The vocabulary of prayer is not the same as that for the application of a grant or a job…Prayer is the language of confession. By ‘confessional language’ I do not mean merely admitting that we have done wrong, but confession in the sense of expressing faith, the language that gives expression to our deepest convictions. This kind of language is not merely expressive, a venting of emotions, but represents a reality of human life…It is the insider language of the community of faith…Once we realize something of the nature of the language of prayer…we can confess our own need and lift up our intercessions and petitions to God without reservation. The Lord’s Prayer offers a model for doing so. Matthew’s text presents the opportunity for deepening our understanding of the nature of the language of prayer.” (M. Eugene Boring, “The Gospel of Matthew”, The New Interpreter’s Bible, p. 207)