A really good ending

Whether it is the final moments of a sporting event, a concert encore, the completion of a journey or even the last tasty bite of dessert, good endings are certainly to be celebrated. Don’t we all love how a story can come together with a resolution and a happy ending? What has been wrong is now right and there is resolution. Isn’t that why so many classics end with the stars waltzing off into sunset? In a similar way, what is said at the conclusion of a prayer affirms an emphatic “YES” about the content of the prayer.

I have journeyed with my congregation in preaching on the famous prayer often referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer.” Well, yes, Jesus did pray it, but this prayer could very well be called the “Disciple’s Prayer” because Jesus was giving his followers a model way of praying. Two forms of this prayer are recorded in the Bible in the books of Matthew and Luke. Seven petitions make up the prayer with the first three directed to God and the last four addressing human needs and concerns. Jesus in Matthew 6:9-13 said, “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 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.”

This is the common version many people will pray, but then there is a doxology added at the end which says “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.” This part was added in the first century by early Christians as they felt it was important to do so. The purpose of the doxology was to “give glory” to God and it focuses on His power and majesty. After praising Him for who He is and laying one’s requests before Him, it is very fitting to give back glory to God. This ending helps us see that the prayer then is all about God and not about us. We can take in who God is and we are then able to journey out and face the challenges of life.

The final word of this prayer ends with the word “Amen.” This is not just cute way to say “The End.” “Amen” means “verily,” “truly” or “so be it.” What is said is true and there is a coming action. The great preacher and reformer Martin Luther writes in his explanation of the Lord’s Prayer, that “Amen” means, “Yes, yes, it will be done.” It will be done because God is powerful and is able to answer our prayers according to His will. I love this model of prayer Jesus taught. It is a life transforming prayer. It has a really good ending because at the end we know God will answer and we will be changed into God’s image and into the people of God. AMEN

Frank Alioto is the pastor of The River Covenant Church: “An Alaskan church for people who would rather go to the River.” We gather on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. at K-Beach Elementary in Soldotna. 252-2828 or www.therivercovenantchurch.org.

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