Thursday, June 21, 2012

Our Father who art in Heaven

It is job as Christians to always keep our eyes on the Father. Throughout the day we are to be constantly, and I mean constantly—whenever we can to be turning our minds to the Father, our God whom we love above all else. Now, we might not be able to always psychologically be able to think of God at every moment. As human beings we can only think so many things at one time! Yet, when our minds are not busy with some other task it behooves us to turn our mind to our Father who art in Heaven.

We think of our Father because He truly is a Father to us. He created us in an act of love in such a way that we are his very image just like children are the image of their father. Even more than earthly fathers, our Heavenly Father knows everything there is to know about us. He knows every hair on our head and everything that happens in the depths of our hearts because He is enthralled with the wonder of His creation, which reflects His own glory. He also provides everything that we need. He knows what we need even before we ask.

We don't need to babble on and on about what we need when we're in trouble. It is sometimes helpful for us to explain to God in detail what is troubling us and what we feel we need, but it's not about us instructing God as if He was ignorant. Rather, we use words in prayer to stir up in ourselves love and trust in God. Petitioning God in prayer is an act of love. It demonstrates that we know His power and trust in His goodness. It shows that we want what He wants.

Our prayer is not "let my will be done" but "your will be done." Our prayer should always be in a posture of humility before God seeking His will. Above all, it is the Father's will to take you up into Heaven. He might not do so in a glorious chariot of fire like he did for Elijah. It might be a long battle with cancer. It might be through a tragic accident. God might be preparing you to intimately share in the passion of Christ through martyrdom. We are asked to surrender our lives however the Father might ask us. This is exactly what Christ did.

We are able to surrender ourselves in this way when our minds are constantly directed to the Father who is in Heaven. If we are always thinking of the Father, and His great love for us, then we will have the confidence to offer up every sacrifice. Jesus could offer up His own life to the Father precisely because He knew that His Father dwelt in Heaven and that He would be raised from the dead and ascend into Heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. It was because His eyes never left the Father that He could pour out His life for others.

This is why Jesus teaches us the Our Father. It is his very own prayer. St. Cyprian says, "Let the Father recognize the Son's words when we offer up our prayer." So I encourage you to use the Our Father or similar words to ground yourself in prayer all the day long. Let it be a way of always focusing yourself on the Father, stirring yourself up to love the Lord, conform yourself to His will and to petition Him for all that you need. I often repeat "My God and my all, have mercy on me a poor sinner." It is very short but in it I say everything for which I need to pray.

"My God" I turn to the Father and recognize all that He has done for me and His great perfection. "My all" stirs up in me love because my God is everything my heart could ever desire. "Have mercy on me a poor sinner" reminds me of my position of need before God. I am not but a lowly begger who has nothing of his own to offer God. Rather, everything that I have is purely from God's mercy, and up to know I have been a poor steward of the blessings I have received. Yet, I have certain hope in my Father's mercy. The Lord is close to the poor. "He fills the hungry with good things" and "he has lifted up the lowly." My Father, who I keep always before me, will tend to every need I have.

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