The Lord’s Prayer

Over the past year I have literally experienced the power of the Lord’s Prayer for the first time of my life. Believe it or not, it was, for the most part, just words to me before. (This is humbling, for I am 56 years old and teaching Bible for my whole adult life.) I have discovered, by God’s grace, the stunning revelation of each phrase. Over the next few weeks, over Advent, I would like to post a short reflection on each phrase.

Our Father… This phrase is a warm one for me, because, by God’s grace, I had a good earthly father who loved me. Also, I happen to be a father, and I have come to view this role as the most important one in my life. I love being a father, and I am amazed at how this role has shaped me. Jesus very freely invites us to view God as Father, including us as His siblings, positioning us as Jesus’ own brothers and sisters as heirs to all things. Everything that we humans can think of as good fatherly characteristics, this is what God is like.

However, many of us have a hard time warming up to the word “father” because of our own bad experiences. The truth of the word and image of the verbal symbol “father,” however, doesn’t ultimately rest on our perceptions of earthly fathers, whether they are good or bad. Even our very best thoughts that our minds can come up with concerning “father” falls totally short of the reality of God. Actually, like all images the Bible presents to us to describe God fall completely short of God, who is beyond all words and earthly symbols and images. True learning comes when we discover that God is totally unlike what we thought. So we enter into the beauty and mystery of God as Father by experiencing God’s fatherhood in such a way that what we once thought was good and true about God as father is inadequate. So we learn by meditating on a positive image, but then come to realize that, no─God is greater than what we once thought a father to be. It is like learning by unlearning. This is true enlightenment.

The phrase “Our father” therefore, is the first stepping stone into realms inexpressible and full of glory.

3 Responses to “The Lord’s Prayer”

  1. Dave Gustafson Says:

    I have the option to change OUR Father to MY Father. He is MY Father 100% of the time, and I have 100% of his attention all the time. And each of His children receive 100% of His attention 100% of the time. That’s not possible between us finite humans, but God is INFINITE, and has the capability of giving – just me – all His attention. I’ve typed it. I believe it. I find it hard to comprehend.

    • Dave, your comment exudes a confidence in God as Father that Jesus most assuredly intended us all to have. I want to live in that confidence, and the prayer is designed, with the “Our Father” as the entry into the prayer, just for this purpose. Thanks for your insight in this!

    • Dave,
      I have been thinking about your comment on changing the plural pronouns (our/us) of the prayer to first person singulars (my). Again, I value the confidence of God as our own personal father. I read this yesterday out of David Torkington;s book on prayer called The Hermit. Let me quote him:

      You may be alone in your room, or in a deserted church, but when you begin to pray you enter into the whole community of all who live and love in Christ. Through our prayer we can reach others, share our faith and love with them, and receive strength in turn.

      The whole point in prayer is that it takes believers out of themselves into another world where they no longer live for themselves but for others, in a community that supersedes the barriers of space and time. They are invited into a wholly new environment where they will gradually forget their own petty self-centered world, as they learn to live with and for all who are alive in Christ. End quote

      I find it interesting that Torkington places these words in the mouth of a hermit who has chosen to live alone on a lonely island of the Hebrides off the western coast of Scotland. I do not think, Dave, that the spirit of what you say is in contradiction to Torkington, but that Torkinngton might perhaps add another dimension to the issue.

      Any more thoughts about this?

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