February 22, 2018

By Rev. Brian Belting, Kilohana UMC, Hawaii District

Matthew 6:9-10

Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Kara Powell and Brad Griffin in their book, Stickyfaith, describe ways churches can help faith “stick” in youth as they transition into late adolescence and early adulthood. One key factor, they argue, is the number of adults from faith communities involved in the life of a single youth. They say if five adults invest in the life of one youth, then that youth is much more likely to continue their faith journey into college and beyond. This input shouldn’t surprise us, because all of us are indebted to the people who chose to journey with us. I know I can name my cross-country coach, young life leader, and my friends’ parents who guided me as I started my walk of faith in high school. Coaches, guides and mentors play pivotal roles in our lives as youth, and adults—our stories are dependent on these relationships.

Popular American culture, however, seems to celebrate individuality and self-achievement over the importance of mentors and guides in our lives. Why we don’t give more credit to those who have made our success possible is a mystery to me. In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus offers us a different paradigm in his instructions on how to pray. While there is much to explore in this passage, two points seem to stand out to me during this Lenten season. First, is the recognition of God as “our father,” which I do not believe is a reference to God’s gender as much as it is a reference to the intimacy of our relationship to God. God is as close as a parent in our lives. Secondly, Jesus’ prayer, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done,” recognizes God’s role as our guide.

Lent is a season of confession, of preparing for the new life that is in store for us in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which we celebrate on Easter Sunday. Confession begins with our recognition that we need something, or someone, beyond ourselves, and the prayer that Jesus instructs us to pray recognizes God as the one who meets that need. We are totally and utterly dependent on God to guide us through the wilderness and into new life —“Your kingdom come. Your will be done.” Jesus’ instruction on prayer also proclaims to us that God is willing to guide us in our journey, to enter an intimate parenting relationship with us.

How do you look to God to guide you into new life? How might you celebrate the faithful coaches, mentors and teachers in your life? How might you embody God in the world and walk with others in their journey towards new life?

Prayer: God our Father and Mother, we are in need of you to lead us through the wilderness of life and into the beauty and richness of life you have in store for us. Amen.