But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. ~ Matthew 6:7-11

Give us this day .. A spiritually-enervating breath of fresh air descended upon the United States last weekend in Melbourne Florida when, prior to introducing her husband the president to an overflow gathering, the elegant First Lady gave due diligence to the God of Creation when she opened her remarks by invoking the Lord’s Prayer. At a public event. In full view of the global TV cameras. And delivered unashamedly with poise.

To which the crowd embraced her with reverence, acclamation, and applause.

I AM the way, the truth, and the life…

Jesus Christ had some strong ideas about prayer, often going off into the nighttime hours to pray in quiet while his disciples were either engaged in their fishing occupation, sleeping in the quiet Garden of Gethsemane and elsewhere, or spending time with their families.

It’s in the Book of Matthew where we find the most accepted version of the Lord’s Prayer, delivered during the foundational Sermon on the Mount. Also known as The Swiss Army Knife of Prayers, this particular prayer is the Alpha and the Omega of prayers. Christ reinforces this when he instructs “After this manner therefore pray ye.”

Of late however (and I know there are many more of you out there) yours truly has become more likely to curse than to “pray ye” for the fact that life ofttimes appears to be so cruel. The loss of more than a few family members and friends over the past year or so has tended towards me becoming a little more avuncular as to the extension of life; ie you’re born, you live, you die. Some live short lives, some live long, and yet others in-between. So my reinforced program from here on out is to swap a curse for a prayer whenever I find I’ve slipped into the cursing mode.

Truth is, that in a world that is already accursed, putting more curses into it is never a good idea; it just feeds the devil’s agenda. Seems to me that we’re full up at present. No shortage of curses that I can see. Still, slipping into the cursing mode is far too easy to do in this day and age. Especially so, since we’re encouraged to do it by the very nature of the secular society we currently inhabit.

There it is. That’s it. The real core of all prayers. The one request of the Lord without which nothing else matters.  If there’s nothing else you can think of to pray, simply invoke that four-word prayer. “Give us this day. Amen.”

It is from where all our past lost days flow towards, and from which all our future hoped-for days flow from. Without the gift of “This Day” the ones that have passed have no meaning, and the ones that are to come have no potential. Both are but abstractions.

When I pray the Lord’s Prayer (each and every day) I always pause – at the very least – when I come to the phrase, ‘Give us this day.’ And in that pause I remember another phrase derived from scripture: ‘Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.’ ~ Proverbs 27:1

Which reminds me of this sentiment, picked up a few years ago from All Poetry linked below:

There are two days in every week we should not worry about, two days that should be kept free from fear and apprehension. One of these days is Yesterday, with its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains. Yesterday has passed, forever beyond our control. All the money in the world cannot bring back yesterday. We cannot undo a single act we performed. Nor can we erase a single word we’ve said – yesterday is gone;

The other day we shouldn’t worry about is Tomorrow, with its possible adversities, its burdens, its large promise and poor performance. Tomorrow is beyond our control. Tomorrow’s sun will rise either in splendour or behind a mask of clouds but it will rise. And until it does, we have no stake in tomorrow, for it is yet unborn;

This leaves only one day – Today. Any person can fight the battles of just one day. It is only when we add to the burdens of yesterday and tomorrow that we break down. It is not the experience of today that drives people mad – it is more the remorse of bitterness for something that happened yesterday, and the dread of what tomorrow may bring.

Let us, therefore, live one day at a time!

I have an overwhelming sense that I have current friends and family members who quite recently knew that phrase, “Tomorrow is not promised,” in a rather dry, academic, vaguely poetic manner. Now, having had all their tomorrows removed and then miraculously restored, I feel quite certain that they fully understand the phrase down into the marrow of their bones, to the extent that I now imagine them coming into this day asking “Give us this day.”

And it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if I were to witness them departing the day to one of the early litanies of childhood .. Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.

Give us this day. Amen.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. ~ Matthew 6:13-15

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From All Poetry Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

H/T Gerard Vanderleun and American Digest

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Face of Jesus by Richard Hook

Soli Deo Gloria!