I am finishing up The Secret Message of Jesus and was touched by McLaren's view of the Our Father. How many times have we said this prayer? It is so easy to memorize it and treat it like a formulaic idol instead of a teaching from Jesus on communicating with the Creator.
McLaren points out that Jesus tells us to "go into (our) rooms and pray to the Father in private" right before the discourse on the Our Father. Then, He goes on to begin the prayer with the word Our.
Not once are we instructed to pray for ourselves in this prayer!
Imagine the scene: we are alone, in the quiet of our inner chamber...in the silence...searching for God--asking Him primarily for peace and unity with others. We are always, in prayer, to focus on the our.
Suddenly, prayer and what we are to pray for, becomes clearer.
Similarly, the word Father denotes a generous protector who unites us all in familial love. We are all brothers. This, too, should come out in prayer.
The Our Father also instructs us to remember that God is beyond what we could ever imagine. He is in heaven and his named is holy. This gives us a sense of paternal security that continues the theme.
The Kingdom of God is, in McLaren's view,the central part of Christ's message. We beg the Lord to bring His Kingdom to fruition on earth, among the people He created.
Our daily bread is given to us like manna to the Israelites--in sufficient quantities for the day. We are not to hoard. Anything left over, we are to share.
Forgiveness is also central to Jesus' message. We hope and expect forgiveness from God, so we are obliged to extend it to our neighbor.
Temptation is what we pray against--not other people, but within ourselves.