Our Father

Feb 20, 2024

.

Well we’re almost a week into Lent. Think back to the gospel for Ash Wednesday: the good deeds we do for Lent are not to be paraded before others. If we do this we have had our reward since others know the good we have been doing.

In the same way that reading reminds us not to be pray so that others will see us praying because if this is our purpose in prayer, then that is its own reward.

Instead that first gospel of Lent reminds us to go to our inner room, to ‘close the door’ and to pray in that secret place, to be in relationship with God in the alone place where we are most ourselves.

The Ash Wednesday reading then skips ten verses and jumps to an instruction on fasting, reminding us not to make a public show of our fasting but rather to fast in that hidden place, the place of meeting between you and Jesus.

These scriptures present to us two worlds: an outer world and an inner world.

How easy it is to live in the outer world where things are done for show, to receive the affirmation of others, or to appear successful in the eyes of the world. But the place where we really seek confidence and peace is in the depth of our being, our heart, our soul.

Each day and especially in the mid-night hours we can become anxious about many things: health, those we love, financial worries and an endless list of other anxieties. In the middle of the night when there is no one else to talk to and our day-time escapes are not available, things can get uncomfortable and the night seems long. But Jesus is there looking forward to that secret conversation we might initiate in that secret and lonely place.

Today’s gospel is those ten missing verses from the sixth chapter of Matthew’s gospel focussing on prayer: when you pray don’t use lots of words, because your Father knows what you desire in the depth of your heart and prayer is the expression of the desire of your heart.

In these verses the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray and he responds: Our Father.

We know well the rest of the prayer, but even those two opening words are a rich prayer in themselves: Our Father.

Take the word FATHER.

To hear Jesus refer to God as Father was a great shock, even a heresy, to the people of his time since the relationship with God was not understood to be as intimate as the healthy relationship between a father and a child. But here Jesus is saying Father, even daddy, (Abba) in a close intimate way.

We are called into relationship with God who is not a distant ruler, but a God who in Jesus is present, with us, in as intimate a love as the relationship between the healthy father and his child.

Now let’s consider the word OUR.

When we pray this prayer we don’t pray “my” Father but OUR Father.

In this first word of the prayer we are reminded that we are not alone. People all over the world in every moment are praying this prayer. We are related to each other because of our relationship with God and are members of ONE family. This is why we use these words so often to pray for others. We are not alone and even as we pray for others we know too that others are praying for us.

I was moved a few years ago to hear a father share that he taught his child to pray this prayer especially in the middle of the night when the child woke and felt sad or anxious. This father went on to explain that he taught his son this prayer because when he himself was a small child and woke anxious in the middle of the night: “my grandfather told me to pray this prayer, and I did and it works!”

I invite you throughout the day whenever you have a moment to pray the Our Father,

Prepare now to take a few moments in stillness and silence and pray slowly, as a mantra, growing to appreciate at a deeper level the beauty of these two words.

Our Father.

Our Father.

Our Father.

6 Comments

  1. Our Father
    Such simple but beautiful words
    May l never cease to pray through out this day
    Our Father
    Thank you for todays reflection

    Reply
  2. A lovely thought, that millions of others are saying the Our Father individually, but all at the same time – making us one, in the Father. Thanks John.

    Reply
  3. Thank you JohnI I love your reflection today and I hope todo as you suggested..

    Reply
  4. When Jesus said OUR Father, that made us all a brother of Jesus.
    I also pray this if I wake disturbed in the night, it really works.
    Thanks, John.

    Reply
  5. We rattle off Our Father so often that it was good today to reflect on it. My father was a good example of the qualities that I have in my Heavenly Father and I thank God I had him as a good example.

    Reply
  6. Thank you John for your commitment to Our Father daily and thank you for your thoughts, which you kindly take the time share with us.
    I too find comfort when I wake in the night and pray the Our Father, slowly and thoughtfully. I usually wake in the morning and remember that I never managed to finish it. Or, when I struggle to go to sleep, I pray the Our Father and once again, wake in the morning and realize I have not completed it before sleep descended on me. This form of prayer brings so much peace to my soul, body and spirit.
    Anne

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Posts

Annunciation

Annunciation

With her encounter with the angel, Mary’s life became an adult adventure of mature faith.

growing up

growing up

Thomas was not doubting as much as seeking; he was expressing the desire of one who truly yearns for adult faith.

blessed assurance

blessed assurance

The point of this Easter Season is that we personally experience the 2024 reality of God in Jesus Christ present with us.

so much colour

so much colour

Jesus is present, alive, active, with us and filling our existences with the cosmic and eternal colour of abundant life.

let’s get physical

let’s get physical

Turn to Jesus today begging him to reveal himself personally, intimately and physically