Leader, Pray to Be Led

When Jesus said, “Give us this day our daily bread,” he and his listeners probably couldn’t have helped but remember the experience of their ancestors in the wilderness, when they complained of hunger and God answered with manna, saying, “In the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.”

When Jesus told them next to pray, “Forgive us,” those words may have evoked their collective memory of Israel’s impatience and complaining—still, after having been provided manna day by day—that prompted a scourge of “fiery serpents” in the camp that prompted grief, sorrow, repentance, and prayers for forgiveness and healing…which were answered when Moses lifted up in their midst a “bronze serpent” on a pole.

Similarly, when Jesus said to pray, “And lead us,” he and his hearers may have recalled the pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night—the GPS system by which God led his people out of Egypt and through the wilderness, step by step, turn by turn, until they crossed the Jordan and entered the Promised Land.

So pray to be led like that, and pray also for the grace, wisdom, and courage to follow. Pray, “lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Pray, “Lead me in the right path.” Pray, “Lead me in your truth and teach me.” Pray, “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Pray, “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!”

(an excerpt from the upcoming book, The Red Letter Prayer Life, pp. 152-153)

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