This week’s focus phrase is on the line, “Our Father in heaven …” Many people have struggled with God being identified in gender-specific language, including myself. We’ll wrestle with some of that this Sunday, so I won’t take up space here (But if you’d like to read a story about a time when my biological father became nearly godlike to me – embodying the best of what it might mean to call God “Father,” you can read my post during the Beatitudes series).
Instead, I’d like to share a reflection written by an unknown source that I’ve found helpful when considering the Lord’s Prayer as a whole. I think it makes a fitting introduction to our series:
Thoughts on the Lord’s Prayer
I cannot say our if religion has no room for others and their needs.
I cannot say Father if I do not demonstrate this relationship in my daily living.
I cannot say who art in heaven if all my interests and pursuits are on earthly things.
I cannot say hallowed be thy name if I, who am called by his name, am not holy.
I cannot say thy kingdom come if I am unwilling to give up my own sovereignty and accept the righteous reign of God.
I cannot say thy will be done if I am unwilling or resentful of having it in my life.
I cannot say on earth as it is in heaven unless I am truly ready to give myself to his service here and now.
I cannot say give us this day our daily bread without expending honest effort for it or by ignoring the genuine needs of my fellowmen.
I cannot say forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us if I continue to harbor a grudge against anyone.
I cannot say lead us not into temptation if I deliberately choose to remain in a situation where I am likely to be tempted.
I cannot say deliver us from evil if I am not prepared to fight in the spiritual realm with the weapon of prayer.
I cannot say thine is the kingdom if I do not give the King the disciplined obedience of a loyal subject.
I cannot say thine is the power if I fear what my neighbors may say or do.
I cannot say thine is the glory if I am seeking my own glory first.
I cannot say forever if I am too anxious about each day’s affairs.
I cannot say amen unless I honestly say, “Cost what it may, this is my prayer.”