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The Postmodern Man's Prayer

It was around one in the morning and I knew I had to wake up at five the next morning but an anxious noxiousness was twisting around inside me. I felt like all was falling apart around me as I tried to juggle a million lives. A new semester's schedule had piled Pre-Calculus homework on me and a generally unself-reflective speeding through life had left me nervous and scared that it was all going to end in a sickening crash.

Then a word came to me: Thy will be done. I had been praying the Lord's Prayer a lot awhile back but just then I realized it hadn't come to me in a long time and perhaps that was one reason for the manic approach to life that was taking over my soul like a cancer.

There seemed no specific moment when I had stopped praying the Lord's Prayer but as I piled my life up with more and more distractions it slowly seeped out of my life. I reflected and saw that I had no free time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays due to eight hours of acting lessons, four hours of improv, an hour guitar lesson, an hour of family business and nine hours of Watershed Community stuff - not to mention the thirty-five hours of school and forty hours of sleep. Now I was adding things on my Mondays and Saturdays so that Friday was my only free day; even Fridays were usually spent hanging out with my friends.

I had all these responsibilities and then the new semester came in. Pre-Cal math wasn't really difficult but one to two hours of homework didn't help my schedule. I stopped reflecting altogether - even in quiet moments like praying before bed or reading Psalms in the morning. I had shut myself off letting my mind wander to other issues. At this point it was just my schedule but it took a turn for the worse when I realized that I was shutting God out unconsciously and had decided that it was okay because I was so busy. Compulsion and avoidance of pain flowed in; I became a scheming wreck that was always running from thing to thing trying to keep all confrontation or hurt at bay.

Finally as I sat there I realized it had all spiraled out of control. The words 'Thy will be done' were not easy to hear and I almost grudgingly realized I had to pray the Lord's Prayer.

There was some trepidation in praying it for the first time again because there is confrontation in the Word of God and there must be pain in every confrontation. But with faith in God I finally started - Our Father. Sitting with just these two words made me realize I had, in effect, run away from our Father disowning him and living in a self-destructive mess. There was pain in realizing that I had walked out on God and left not only him but all my brothers and sisters. I thought about him not being just my Father but our Father and I had tried to shut out God and the world, His family. I tried to remember how much comfort these words had brought in past times praying it. In our post-modern world it had reminded me that we were all really connected but here it was hard to feel that connection because I felt like I had tried too hard to shut him out.

Who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. This sentence has always confused me. It's always created the image of God behind pearly gates laughing at us, knowing He is above us all. I thought about the 'as above, so below' idea and came to think that God is in every moment because the Kingdom finds its way into every corner and niche no matter how dark and gloomy. Heaven is anything but sterilized. The temptation is to think that because we are praying the prayer or because we are ‘Christians’ when the Kingdom comes we'll be allowed into a V.I.P. party to which nobody else will be invited. We'll feast and dance and watch Jesus turn water into wine. But when I prayed this I felt that the Kingdom was actually full of judgement and pain and ultimately, grace. I realized that along the way I must pick up my cross daily and follow Him; this means a lot more than I could ever guess. In wondering what that all entailed, I found that I was in God's hands. Faith was all that was necessary and that was enough on my plate. But praying it this time I couldn't feel all this learning that I had done in the past but only a painful separation from God.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is on heaven. This verse struck me and made me reflect on how much these words had had to do with my life in the past little while. I had not wanted His Kingdom to come, I had not wanted earth as in heaven and I definitely didn't want His will to be done. I wanted the world to be my way and I had wanted my will to be done. I wanted things to work out best for me, and as painless as possible. But here I realized there was something definitely wrong with that approach and with some reluctance I outstretched my hands and hung my head, letting God take the steering wheel back.

Give us this day our daily bread. In the past these words had made me vividly aware of how God will provide and that all we needed to do was have faith. This time, though, I got the other side of the coin and realized how I had been starving as I was scavenging for a self-sufficient answer to the question of spiritual, emotional, mental and even physical sustenance.

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. This felt almost cheap to ask of God because I felt I didn't deserve any forgiveness: after all, I asked myself, how often have I forgiven somebody else recently? When I had prayed this before I had felt God's vivid presence and grace, this time I still felt his presence but I was full of guilt and sin as opposed to grace.

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. These words stuck out as I prayed and realized that I had been sitting in evil and had my back turned on God. It became clear that I would walk right into temptation without letting God take the lead.

For thine is the kingdom the power and glory. Forever and ever. Amen. And there was a sense of purification and release as I finished this prayer. God will always be in control. God will always know best. Everything is in God's hands forever and ever and there was no word after that. Finally I felt with hanging head that I had passed the steering wheel back to God. I was reminded of all the times the Lord's Prayer had rearranged my outlook on humanity and on Christianity. It was great how God working through the prayer had changed the way I lived my life no matter how subtly it had been done. And I realized that for a person that's crazy and all over the place it's a great thing to have a prayer to ground myself in and look out from. I sat there feeling refreshed, a strong sense of God in the room before I lay down in my bed and went to sleep.

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