I have the feeling that all of us are searching for a bit of peace in life. Peace of mind, peace of heart, serenity to take with us through the day. So I’ve decided to write a series of posts on it. Some of them will be really short – just little quotes that I think might bring someone somewhere a little peace; others will be longer reflections. I really hope that you’ll enjoy them 🙂
It was only this week that I realised with clarity that Jesus really did offer us a Way of Peace for our lives. It seems ridiculous that it took me 20 odd years of being a Christian to really see this, but that is what the Christian life is like – always a journey of new insights, new struggles, new revelations. Just like any other relationship.
As anyone who reads this blog will know, I’ve been reading a book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where you Are, by Ann Voskamp, and it has blown me away. It is written in a way that is so deeply human and has really helped me to start to see life and God in a new way, to understand that whatever the suffering around me, or even in me, God is good and gives grace and love every day. This book has so greatly influenced all I am thinking about at the moment, I feel I have to mention it now as I’m sure the ideas from it are interwoven in the thoughts I want to share.
I’ve also been doing a lot of work around the Lord’s Prayer: As part of my job, I plan and teach assemblies and also run a school lunchtime club, where I was asked to create a ‘Prayer Space’* with the children. It was thinking about this famous prayer that really got me thinking in a new way about my relationship with God and this ‘Way of Peace’ I see modelled in Jesus. Yesterday I was doing some writing for some adults at a church service I’m doing on Sunday and wrote this:
The Lord’s Prayer begins by acknowledging our Father in Heaven. A heavenly father is a perfect one, and to pray this line immediately places ourselves in a position of being truly loved and cared for. The practise of regularly praying ‘Our Father…’ is an act of acceptance of God’s love, and can give us security, peace, and healing. There may be times when we do not feel that God has loved us, when our circumstances trick us into doubting our Father’s goodness. In these times, let’s say it anyway – an act of faith in a world that is crying out for hope in the face of struggle and tragedy.
I think that saying Our Father… in times of sadness or difficulty can also help us to bring our feelings to Him, and with Him they are safe. We are told in the Bible that He is the great Comforter, close to the broken-hearted and the One who can bind up our wounds and make us new: If you are struggling today, even if you have never prayed before, come to your heavenly Father with all your worries and sadnesses, and He will be there to love and care for you.
The other lines of the prayer also reinforce the extremely secure position we are in as children of God, and address the greatest concerns and battles of the human life. We pray ‘Let your kingdom come and your will be done, on earth as in heaven’ – placing trust in a perfect king who offers hope to a troubled world (Isaiah 60). We pray ‘give us today our daily bread’ – placing trust in a Provider who knows our needs (Matthew 6: 8). We pray ‘forgive us… as we forgive others’ to the Prince of Peace who promised a criminal Paradise (Luke 23). We pray ‘lead us not into temptation’ to the great Helper who promises to be with us always (John 14), and we pray ‘deliver us from evil’ to the Shepherd who walks with us through the Valley of the Shadow of Death (Psalm 23). These prayers remind us of who we pray to, and show us the way of peace. In all situations, we can give thanks because we have Jesus, and in Jesus we have everything.
As I wrote, I realised that all the things that trouble us as humans are ‘covered’ in this prayer. Jesus understood our lives completely when he gave it to his disciples. He understood that we worry about having ‘enough’. He understood that we look around us and see an imperfect world and it troubles us. He understood that our feelings of inadequacy and failure can weigh us down. He understood that we worry about our relationships, that we fear illness and death and war. He understood that we need to remind ourselves that we are children of a good God who not only wants to help us through our lives, but to show us all that he is doing and has to offer that goes beyond our lives and expectations.
*For more information on Prayer Spaces in Schools, click here.