The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
July 28th, 2019 – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 11:1-13
It is said that our prayer life provides a window to our souls. One of our family customs is to take turns leading the prayer before meals. Especially when our older children (who live elsewhere) are present for a family meal, I often nominate one or another of them (especially the one I might be worried about) to lead the prayer. This is my ingenious way of finding out what’s going on inside them. Often worries are expressed or fears are named in their prayers. In other words, I find out things about them and their lives that would ordinarily be secret but come forth in prayer. Sometimes, they will simply recite the standard, “Bless us O Lord …” and then I worry even more.
Today’s gospel offers us “the Lord’s Prayer” or the prayer that Jesus gave us as his own. Within it is held a precious message about how Jesus (and we, his followers) are to pray. What should be our attitude while we pray, our hopes and expectations, our deeper desires? How should we address God, the Creator of all that is, the incredibly magnificent Universe, the Earth, our home, and all of us who have lived here, live here now and will live here. That God who became one of us, took our nature, walked our pathways, ate and drank with us and gave his all for us. Yes, that God. How should we address that God?
Begin, Jesus says, by using the name of God he found best. The name “Abba.” We come close to the meaning of that name with our word, “Dad” or “Mom.” It’s a word implying closeness and intimacy, familiarity, trust and endearment. Love. We pray that we desire nothing other than what God does: the way of God, the reality of God and the life of God to spread and be present everywhere. We ask that this come about. We want what God wants. Why would we want otherwise?
We ask for nourishment of body and mind and soul. And we say without reservation that we want nothing to come between us and others, just as God does. We want to forgive as God forgives. Generously, fully, without demands, without limit. And finally, we ask in confidence (hopefully) that we will not be destroyed by some final act of decimation. That we be held in existence forever in God, and with God and with all those God has created.
The Our Father is a daring prayer, a bold prayer, and might even be considered reckless or disrespectful were it not given to us by the One who surely knew it was the very best way to pray to God.
©David M. Thomas, PhD