From ChurchtoYou.org

“Lord, Teach Us to Pray” Part V

Our last post ended with, “In this place of only faith and faith alone, we begin to realize only one thing is needed: God’s supply to live in God’s kingdom” – which is Jesus’ terminology for the Presence of God.

M_IMG_9485 - Copy

The movement toward living by “only faith and faith alone” progresses by allowing our longings, questions, and yearnings to be guided by Jesus’ teaching, “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.”

BUT, do we really, actually …?

Please pause and ponder this.

Do you really keep bringing to God the truth of your self – the truth of your longings and yearnings, day by day, month by month, decade by decade? At 89 the celebrated monk Thomas Keating reported that he just learned how to learn! That’s a model of one who has kept asking, seeking, and knocking.

With the motivating force of our longings and yearnings being shaped by the prayer for God’s Presence, our iron grip on the world we desire and would make according to our will is loosened and, eventually, shattered. What can feel like devastation is actually the greatest of graces. We may not realize it, but we are being set free. We are being prepared for eternity, eternal Life now, right here right now.

This brings us to the next line of Jesus’ teaching, “Give us each day our daily bread,” and one of the great puzzles in the New Testament. The Greek word for “daily” (epiousion) is an unknown word. Its appearance in Luke and Matthew in the Lord’s Prayer are its first appearances in all of Greek literature, and these two are the only times the word is used in the New Testament. So what does it mean? We don’t know!!

The scholarly debate of the meaning of epiousion continues, and this blog is not the occasion to explore it. I’ll rather offer an understanding that sits in the middle of the discussion.

I think “epiousion bread” means “the bread of the coming kingdom, of the new aeon of your Presence.” Thus, the prayer is, “give to us the nourishment to live in your Presence, now …”

… the future age that has already started coming in Jesus, now.

This is of course the nourishment of the Spirit’s Presence, which is the answer to our asking, seeking, and knocking: “How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask” (Lk. 11:13).

But we need to be ever so careful here. Facile understandings of the Spirit’s Presence limit us greatly. In the freedom of letting go of the demands of our desiring a spectacular largess awaits us.

As we awaken and open ourselves to God’s kingdom, God’s Presence, what Martin Laird calls a spacious spaciousness and a vast vastness emerges within us. We are being set free from the small, limited world we make for ourselves and opened to abiding in the Presence of the One who simply is, … in eternity, now.

mtIMG_3414 - Copy

All else in life becomes relativized. Decade by decade the kingdom comes in us. We become one with this humble, boundless Presence which just is.

mtIMG_2954

An ocean of peace emerges from within.

mt

Streams of joy spring from our innermost being.

However, this is where only faith and faith alone becomes so important. Our entire life we have longed for this peace and this joy. We know they are our birthright … but they emerge in and from the spacious benevolence of this Presence. They are not ours to own or possess. They are rather the gift of not clinging, of releasing our self into God’s kingdom, God’s Presence. The moment we yield to the desire to possess God’s goodness we shrink our world. Only by faith and faith alone do we abide in the boundless Presence which just is.

We discover that all our yearnings find their end in this Presence. This discovery comes not by theory or theology but by the actual practice of asking, seeking, and knocking, of actually bringing our desires and longings to the One Jesus calls Father, and letting them be guided by “Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.” And when the kingdom comes, when this boundless Presence emerges within us, we learn not to cling, not to posses, but to keep living by faith, by letting go and not possessing. This is ordinary life extraordinarily lived.

Along with this peace and joy emerges another gift: Insight into this life of faith, what Martin Laird calls a luminous luminosity.

IMG_9371 - .40 Copy

Please ponder these things as you again engage Luke 11:1-13. [If you are new to our blog, a description of our method of “engaging,” which is a method for reading and praying with the Bible, other literature, and life itself, can be found here.].

If you found this post meaningful, please consider sharing it by clicking on Facebook below. Thank you!

Grace and Peace,

Jim

More to come …

About jclark

The Rev. Jim Clark is the Rector of the Episcopal Parish of St. Barnabas on the Desert in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Comments

  1. Elizabeth Garas says:

    (I chose to explore the word “bread” in this post, Fr. Jim. Thank you for challenging us to think more deeply about our faith and the Lord’s Prayer given to the disciples).

    As Jesus taught the disciples to pray, it seems reasonable that whatever word or phrase He actually used would have been understood by the mostly Jews and smattering of Gentiles that heard it. That would suggest that the “manna in the desert”, “depend on God” meaning might have been the limited way that those who heard it understood it at the time, even if He spoke of bread that was beyond (“epi”) the mere essential (“ousios”)—–something above the essence of “bread” needed for physical survival. Jesus spoke about bread many times, especially as He described Himself as “The Bread of Life”, and as He instructed that “man does not live by bread alone.”

    In it’s fullest meaning, it would seem to mean all of the above and more—–a recognition that day-to-day existence requires more than mere physical food, more than mere biological survival. We also need each day that bread that goes beyond the physical—-that which is spiritual and transcendent—food essential for spiritual and eternal life—-namely the Lord Himself. Thus we ask God to give us not only the physical things necessary for survival, but we also ask Him to give us the extra-physical things, the “beyond the essential” and “beyond the essence” that we likewise need every day in order to embrace God’s Kingdom and Presence.

    Thank you, Father, for all that You provide and which we accept by faith. Thank you for the gift of your daily sustaining grace. Bless you for your peace and joy, as well as your gift of insight into our life of faith—the “luminous luminosity” as described by Martin Laird. Glory to God!

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: