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Book of the Month: Schola Caritatis: Learning the Rhythms of God's Amazing Love

  Starting a new feature for the next several months called Book of the Month.  I will present one of my books and tell you a little of the ...

Sunday, July 24, 2016

our father

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

     “Father, hallowed be your name.
     Your kingdom come.
     Give us each day our daily bread,
     and forgive us our sins,
     for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
     And lead us not into temptation.”

     And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:1-13)

It is interesting that Jesus begins and ends this little instructional session on prayer with the image of God as our Father.  Obviously he is trying to help mold and shape both our thinking and our practice.  In fact, one always affects the other.  What we truly believe will always determine our practice; and our practice, in turn, will always impact what we genuinely believe to be true about God.  It is a continual loop.
     Therefore, Jesus is trying to firmly establish the idea of the Fatherhood and the Father-love of God deep in our hearts, minds, and souls.  Because this one image determines, to a large degree, how we see and relate to God.  He calls on fathers to consider how they feel about their own children, and to use that as a frame of reference for how God truly feels about all of us. 
     The way you feel about your own children—your deep love and affection for them, what you truly desire for them, and how you care for them—is only just beginning to scratch the surface of how your Heavenly Father, your Abba, feels about you.  Your desire for them to be joyful and free and prosperous and happy and free from shame is just the beginning of what I desire for you.  I am your Abba.  I love you immensely.  I care about every little thing that happens to you, every little detail of your life.  Live in my love.  Prayer is one of the main ways you can do that.  When you pray to me as Abba it helps you come to see me as your loving Father.  A Father who longs for you to be whole and peaceful and true to who you really are, who you were created to be.  A Father who longs to see you being fruitful and giving and loving the way I am.  A Father who longs for you to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are deeply, unconditionally, and eternally loved.  I love you.  You are my beloved and with you I am well-pleased. 

Lord Jesus, reveal to us the Father.  Let His name, His infinite Father-love, the love with which He loved Thee, according to Thy prayer, be in us.  Then shall we say aright, “Our Father!”  Then shall we apprehend Thy teaching and the first spontaneous breathing of our heart will be: “Our Father, Thy Name, Thy Kingdom, Thy Will.”  And we shall bring our own needs and our sins and our temptations to Him in the confidence that the love of such a Father cares for all.  Blessed Lord, we are Thy scholars, we trust Thee; do teach us to pray, “Our Father.”  Amen. (With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray)

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