The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father
The Lord’s Prayer that Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount [Matthew 6] begins: “Our Father who art in heaven/Hallowed be your name.” Isn’t it interesting that it starts with ‘Our,’ not my Father, but our? Harking back to Genesis, when God created Adam in His image, God put something of himself into Adam and, by inference, into every human being since then. We all have something of God’s image in us that lies deep within us, only to be activated when we come to love God and to follow His Son wherever He would lead us. So, Our Father is not only the God of the Christians and the Jews, but of every human being—whether they are aware of God and love Him or not.
As our Father, He would teach us all we need to know to live our lives well. He would lead us to the purpose of our creation, to the fulfillment of our lives in Him. There is so much awe and mystery in our God. A Father will provide everything for His children—food and drink, clothing, housing, sustenance for our spiritual lives, children and families, companions along the way, work that fulfills our purpose, avocations that bring joy, and a connection to Him, a direct line of experience of His presence, if we are open to it. We can trust our Holy Father in everything: to fulfill all our needs, to answer our prayers, to lead us in healing our pain and transforming our lives from being tied totally to the world to living in His kingdom here on earth.
He knows each of us so well. He knows our flaws and where we have sinned. He knows our positive qualities and where we shine. And everything in between. He is our Great Teacher who knows just what our next step should be when we are willing to follow His “still small voice” [1 Kings 19:12] He will lead us throughout our lives if we will let Him. I call Him the ‘Great Teacher” because I sense that our lives are a school which are designed to teach us how to love God and to love ourselves, to love every living person who are also His sons and daughters, and to love His whole creation.
Our Father is connected to and tracks each of the 7 billion lives on this earth, in addition to all the rest of His creation. He intimately knows us; forgives us, lives in us. His caring for each of us is beyond belief.
The title, Our Father, does not in any way define Him for our human minds. He is the vastness of the universe, the inhabiter of all our souls and all of creation; He is the mind that created all that is. He is beyond all that we know and can understand. What we can do is to stand before Him, in all His majesty and glory, and be awed by our God. To begin our prayer with “Our Father” places Him at the head of our lives, our agendas, our purpose, our creator, and so much more, in gratitude and love.
“Who art in heaven” evokes several thoughts in me. The first is that He is not seen here on Earth. But He certainly is here. For He exists in each one of us. If we’re aware of His presence, then our sense of Him is growing within us. We can hear his “still small voice” [1 Kings 19:12] in our minds. We see Him reflected everywhere in His creation. We begin to sense His presence in other people. There are moments when He is present to us, awesome, joyful moments. We learn about His fine mind by observing how the system He created on earth is self-perpetuating and interdependent. Every single thing in nature has its role to play, be it a plant or and animal or a rock. The startling complexity of our earth is reflective of His mind and powers.
While He is not seen on earth here, He has left us a record of all that we can grasp about Him in the Bible. Just as we can’t see Him, we also can’t know Him in full because He is so much vaster than and more intelligent than we are, than we can possibly imagine.
“Hallowed be your name.” Holy, extolled, praised –His name is above all others and precious to us. Hallowed because of His incredible creation. The universe, the system He created out of nothing, is an interdependent system of laws and rules and humans and plants and animals as we see it here on this Earth, an amazing and complex system where everything has its place and knows how to do its part in fostering all creation. At the top of the heap sits mankind which benefits from everything beneath it, but doesn’t always care for the planet and its inhabitants as he should.
Hallowed for the beauty of creation and its vastness. When we first saw the pictures of our planet from space in the 1960s, we could for the first time see its amazing beauty and sparkle. But every day we live in or near trees and maybe mountains, lakes and rivers, deserts–no matter where we live–we can see the variety of all the species and the wonder of all the different trees and landscapes He created. It is as if the creation holds up a mirror to us of who God is and what He is asking of us. After all, if He loves us and all His creation and creatures, isn’t that our job, too?
“Our Father, Who art in Heaven, Hallowed be His name” is the beginning of this prayer for each of us and for all time. Amen. [This is the beginning of an 7-week series on the Lord’s Prayer.]
Questions to ponder over the week: Do I trust God with my life? Do I surrender my all to Him? Do I treat Him as ‘Our Father’ should be hallowed and revered? Is He the most important part of my life or am I still clinging to my ego-self to set the rules, the direction and everything else about my life?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who revere Him as “Our Father,” who listen to all that He asks of us and obey Him in all that we do. May we put Him above everything else in our lives—our egos, our plans, our understanding of who we are. May we love Him with all of ourselves.
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