Over the last three weeks I’ve written about the three petitions in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer, “give us today our daily bread, forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Today I want to talk about the beginning and the end of the prayer, the context in which we pray and the Person to whom we pray this prayer.
“Our Father” –our parent, our creator, and to a child, the one who provides us with everything we need. Since there have been 7500 generations of human beings, “our Father” takes on a broader meaning, as the father of all human beings, again our creator. The father of all mankind, and at the same time, a Father who wants a personal relationship with each of His children. It’s an amazing concept. He created this whole universe and He offers us love and forgiveness, help and support, direction and fulfilment of our creation—to each and every one of us, if we’re interested.
Father denotes a male human being, but when we think of God as just a larger human being, we are limiting who He is. Even using the term father limits how we see God, because He not only provides all the lessons we need to learn, but also all the nurturing and love that we need to grow into the person He designed us to be. If God is the Creator of all the universe, He certainly cannot be conceived of by our small human brains. To think that we know all that God is simply cannot be true.
Sometimes I think that the pronoun “It” is a better way of thinking of God because it is neither masculine or feminine, but it lacks any sense of closeness. And God certainly has the qualities of both sexes, but at least the pronoun He, or even She, convey the personal aspect of this incredible Creator of the universe. I most often use the pronoun He which is what I learned as a child.
“Who art in heaven”—He is not here on earth with us. And yet, He exists within each of us as the Indwelling Spirit of God, as the potential within us to be His servants, the true carriers of His word to the world, if we allow Him to heal us and to bring forward within us His Spirit. Of course, we have to have left the world as our primary teacher of how we are to be to accomplish that spiritual following.
“Hallowed be thy name”—As God, as the Creator and Sustainer of this cosmos, God is to be worshipped and revered and followed and loved by us. He is holiness personified.
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”—we are designed to bring forward God’s kingdom into this world, when we give our lives to Him, to Christ. And then we live in the kingdom here on this earth, we live in the community of all those followers of Christ who are not just doing His will here on earth, but who are also able to express the gifts of the Spirit of God: love, joy, peace , patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control(humility).
“For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever, Amen.” All that is in this world, in the universe, speaks of the totality of His creation. And to that we pledge ourselves to totally align ourselves with all that He is and all that He wants us to become.
The Lord’s Prayer is our ultimate acknowledgement of the power and majesty of our God. It is the penultimate prayer that speaks our devotion to God. And it was given to us by His Son, Jesus. And yet, I am not sure that we are truly awed by who God is and what He has done. The only trouble with prayers that we have memorized is that we say them automatically, maybe without the necessary awe and wonder that He deserves. An assignment you might consider is to write out your own prayer of awe and of His majesty and include several petitions that express what you need. Try it in your own words, and commit to writing that prayer on your heart. Or write the Lord’s prayer on your heart, so that it expresses the very essence of who you are. So that when you repeat these words in church or on your own, you are engaged with the words, acknowledging who God is in your life, pledging to live up to these precious words forever.
Questions to ponder over the week: When I say the Lord’s Prayer at church or at home, am I present to God and the words of the prayer? How important to me is my relationship with God? Would I say that I am of the world or just in the world, but of God? What would it take for me to put God absolutely first in my life above all the cultural norms and my own personal needs?
Blessing of the week: May we be the people of God who live the words of this prayer, who put God first in everything, who follow His suggestions for how we are to be, to live our lives day by day, hour by hour.
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Check out my other website, deepeningyourfaith.com, for information about spiritual practices and more writings about the spiritual life. New posts every month. 8.19.20s is entitled, “The Fruit of the Spirit.”
An invitation to contribute to my book on the Beatitudes: If you would be willing to share some of the obstacles you have encountered in your life that have come between you and God, I would love to hear them. I’ll be writing about the Beatitudes and will identify some of the challenges we face at each step, particularly, anything that you’ve been taught to be true, but later find out doesn’t work for you, or something in your self-image that keeps you where you are instead of responding to what God may ask of you, or cultural norms that get in your way—anything like that. I would only use your initials if I quote you. I am so grateful for any experiences you might contribute. You may message them to me on FB or send them to my email, firstname.lastname@example.org.