It is a new work week new expectations. (I usually start on Tuesdays; my apologies to those who start on Mondays!) A new week is an opportunity in which we want to see our dreams and plans take another step to fulfillment. Although we want to see new hopes realized and new prospects before us, we really like many things to stay the same. Imagine how upset you would be if you came home from work and you discovered that someone had rearranged your whole house. You’d have to search for everything from your socks and shoes to your fry pan to your toothbrush. So then, even those who love change do not want too much change at one time. We love the familiar.
We love the familiar about God and his word. We feel secure in the truth that he will never leave us or forsake us. This is good.
But there is another kind of familiar, when truths seem to have lost their luster and precious words no longer excite. Even glory can seem dull when God’s message becomes overly familiar. Consider the following words that have become overly familiar to many Christians. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (Matthew 6:11-13 NIV). They, as you know, are from the Model or the Lord’s Prayer. They have been recited a zillion times by people since the time Jesus taught them. I attended a Christian university where everyone said them together at the beginning of every chapel or church service. It was far too easy to repeat them by rote, instead of praying them from the heart.
Overfamiliarity can fog our senses. Then we stop communicating with God, because the words are not coming from the heart. As I thought about these words from the Model Prayer during a walk yesterday, I wondered about the overfamiliarity that we have when we say them. Do we consciously consider the dependence on the Lord we are confessing? “Father in heaven, we need you to provide bread for us—and everything else we need for life.” But do we really feel that way? Or are we self-sufficient? Are we very self-reliant, until we get in difficult circumstances, when we actually feel our need? Do we look at ourselves in need of forgiveness, or is forgiveness something only needed by those who have been unkind toward us? Are we confident that we can make it through this week victorious, without an everyday dependence on the Lord Jesus (cf. John 15:5)?
Overfamiliarity can lead to spiritual decay. We fail to trust God personally to supply and to act in our lives. Soon the “house of our lives” becomes broken down. Let’s trust God with a full awareness of our need when we pray the Lord’s Prayer and other prayers. May the full reality of Jesus’ words transform us! Lord, work in us by your word!
Grace and peace,