“The people who know God well—mystics, hermits, prayerful people, those who risk everything to find God—always meet a lover, not a dictator.”
Richard Rohr Everything Belongs
Perhaps the biggest questions have the simplest answers.
Does God Exist? Yes.
Is God Good? Yes.
Can I trust Him? Yes.
What is He like?
And so we begin to learn from Jesus how to pray.
It’s interesting how Jesus teaches his apprentices how to pray. He doesn’t give them a long drawn out complicated mess of language to sort through. He doesn’t lay out a long outline of all kinds of petty dogma and religious talk. Jesus begins with a familiar phrase to them.
Our Father. Two words begin the Lord’s Prayer that we would do well to pay attention. Two words that the disciples would have understood as relationship and regarding family…Our Father.
- Our… The word “our” is a communal word. It means us. Interestingly it is not the word “my” that Jesus teaches them to begin with. This is because ours is not an individualistic faith. When we come to Christ, yes, it is as an individual choice, but we join a collective…a community of people. We are not in this alone. Our relationship with God is not just me and Jesus. It is Jesus and all of us. There cannot be a separation of I and we. God is our Father. We don’t get our only little corner of him. We have to share Him with each other. He is ours. Not mine.
- Our Father… (PATER) This is the word we get “paternal” from. The implication is that God is the originator, the creator, the one looking out for us all. He is our father. Of course, our biggest concerns in this day and age of using a word like “Father” to describe God are that He would be misunderstood. Fathers these days can be synonymous with absent, passive, abusive, or even belligerent. But there He is, still Father, still God, and still the word we use for Him.
In Heaven. The place God dwells is Heaven. The Bible tells us that He dwells in unapproachable light. He is wholly other and He is the Holy Other. Our understanding of his location, his position, is that we are under Him. He is over us. Yes God is everywhere, but that’s not the point of the beginning of this prayer.
Prayer is about posture, not posturing.
Could it be that we have forgotten this? How often do we come to God in prayer only to dictate to Him what we believe He should be doing for us? When we approach God in prayer, it must be from a standpoint of humility and not an entitled arrogance.
And so this is how we begin to pray.
Our Father who is in Heaven…
So what is God like?
He is Ours. He is Father. He is to be humbly approached.
Begin your prayer with this posture every time you pray. Remember we and not me, good Father not unmerciful tyrant, humility not pride.