Several months ago, I memorized the Beatitudes. Since then, each morning I have included meditation on their meaning with reflection on my daily Bible reading and what I plan to write about next on this blog. According to Matthew, Jesus spoke these words after healing a number of people. Crowds thronged to him for healing, but Jesus went up on a mountain side, sat down, and began to teach these words that we now read in Matthew chapter 5. This afternoon, as I hiked along a wooded trail, I recorded reflections on how these blessings can affect the way that we pray. You can watch the video by clicking here or by clicking on the Call for Fire Seminar Facebook page link on this site.
When Christians pray, we should speak with God as the people whom Jesus blesses in the Beatitudes. Our prayers should reflect that we are the poor in spirit, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, that we are pure in heart, that we are peacemakers, that we continue to seek to act righteously even when persecuted. When we mourn, we cry for comforters, but also that we may be the comforters when others mourn.
Later in the sermon that begins with the Beatitudes, Jesus teaches his disciples to pray by providing a template for their prayers that continues to inspire and encourage disciples today as we pray to our Father in heaven. Forgiveness emerges as a request in that prayer, a request that is tied to our willingness and ability to forgive. We pray as people who need forgiveness, but also as people who need to forgive.
As you and I pray, let’s remember the blessings that Jesus pronounced on those who seek the Kingdom of God. Let’s pray as the people whom Jesus blessed and live our lives as the people who make his vision reality. Pray hard, my friends.
Father, pain too often enters our lives. Often that pain is self-induced. We act selfishly. When we are hurt, we fail to forgive and discover that rather than healing, we increase our pain. Fear, distrust, and anger mar too many relationships now in our nation and our world. Awaken our courage and ignite our love so that we may act in purity of heart to reconcile warring factions to one another rather than stoking the fires of hatred and cynicism. Help us to identify our arrogance and pride, and to control it, so that we act with the strength of meekness rather than hiding behind walls that we have constructed with our pride. May we be the salt that retains its saltiness and the light that illumines the darkness. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.