Four calling birds. The word calling evokes several thoughts: the ringing of a phone, yelling to someone far away, and beckoning someone by name. Have you ever heard a child call out for a lost parent in a store?
On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four calling birds. The teaching of Jesus that rings true to me is his example of how to pray.
Jesus taught people how to pray. We call the prayer at Jesus modeled for us the Model Prayer or The Lord’s Prayer. It is said out loud, by everyone in a worship service, every Sunday in many churches. It has even been made into a song. Jesus said, “Pray then like this:
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil,'” (Matthew 9:9-13, ESV).
Let’s look at how Jesus taught his followers to pray.
Our Father in heaven: We have a personal relationship with God. It is a close relationship, where He is our Heavenly Father. We can (and should) call out to Him.
Hallowed be your name: Hallowed is another name for holy, like in Halloween. Halloween means Holy Eve, the night before a special holiday called All Saints Day. God’s name is special and holy. That means it is set apart, making Him different than others.
Your kingdom come: In a kingdom, there is a king. We want God’s kingdom to be in charge. God’s world is different than our world. When you become a Christian, you become a prince or princess in God’s kingdom. You are a son/daughter of the King. Those who are royal act in a special way. They do what the King requests. When we become Christians, God (our King) wants us to act differently than we did before we were part of His kingdom.
Your will be done: God’s princes and princesses want what God wants. They want His will—his desires—to be done. Why? They want the King to be happy, even if it means that they (we) don’t always get what they (we) want. God’s plans will be best because the King knows best!
On earth as it is in heaven: We want God’s kingdom to show up on Earth. That means things are a bit flip-flopped from what non-Christians want. Non-Christians might want to be mean to someone who is mean to them, but in God’s kingdom, He says to pray for those people and to be kind to them. In God’s Kingdom, no one is more important than another. But in our world, many act like they are better than others.
Give us this day our daily bread: We ask for God to give us the food we need for today. He will take care of our needs, but He does not promise to give us too much. This reminds us to trust God with our needs for today. Tomorrow we will do the same.
And forgive us our debts: Think of an I owe you note. It’s written to the person we owe (who we have borrowed or taken from) to show what we are required to pay back. We ask God to tear up the note and forgive us for what we owe Him, for the things we’ve done wrong. We can never un-do our sins/debts, so we ask God to negate them.
As we also have forgiven our debtors: We ask for God to forgive us but we also promise to forgive others in order to receive God’s forgiveness.
And do not bring us to the time of trial: We ask God to keep us away from problems, temptations, or troubles.
But rescue us from the evil one: We ask for God’s protection from evil. He can shield us from anyone or anything who wants us to move away from God.
On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four calling birds, three French hens, and a partridge in a pear tree.