Elizabeth Sherrill, author of Surprised by Grace, shares how a familiar and favorite biblical prayer helped me let go of anger.
Jun 30, 2014
Our Father who is in heaven, uphold the holiness of your name. Matthew 6:9 (The Daily Life Bible)
Three weeks had passed since some driver at the train station had smashed in the passenger side of my parked car. No note left, no phone number. The repairs had been done, our insurance would pay for it and, except for some lost time and a week of imposing on friends for rides, no real harm had been done. Still, I raged at the person who could do such a thing and simply drive away.
“You have to let it go,” said my husband John, who was tired of hearing about it. “Staying angry will hurt you lots more than a damaged car.”
Of course, I knew that–in principle. For our souls’ health, Jesus commands us to forgive far worse things than this! Since I didn’t yet feel forgiving, I turned to the Lord’s Prayer. Perhaps when I reached “as we forgive those who trespass against us,” the transformation would happen.
I didn’t get that far.
Our Father. Mine and this unknown individual’s. The same Father watched over us both with equal love, knew every circumstance of that other life. Who was it? A harried mother distracted by a child? A teenager with more horsepower than experience? A commuter handling work pressures with alcohol?
Whatever the person’s problems, this was my brother or sister for whom I could not help praying with the first word of the Lord’s Prayer and all those that followed. “Give us our daily bread… Forgive us our trespasses.” My own needs and that driver’s needs, lifted together to God.
Years ago I’d clipped some anonymous lines from a mailing from the Omaha Home for Boys. I dug them out now and posted them on my refrigerator door:
You cannot pray the Lord’s Prayer and even once say “I.”
You cannot pray the Lord’s Prayer and even once say “my.”
When you pray the Lord’s Prayer you pray for one another.
And when you ask for daily bread, you must include your brother.
For others are included in each and every plea.
From beginning to the end, it does not once say “me.”
Our Father, as I say the Lord’s Prayer, remind me that I never do so alone.