The Good News for the day, February 20, 2018

Tuesday of the First Week of Lent (225)

Jesus says to his followers: “When you decide to pray, do not rattle along like “outsiders” who assume they will be heard because they say so many words. Don’t be like them. Your Father knows perfectly well what you need even before you ask him. “This is the way you are to pray: “Our Father you are in the Other Realm, Let the difference of your family be known, so that your realm arrives. Let what you want become the rule—here in time on earth as it already is in The Other Realm. Give us this day our daily food; forgive us our faults when we go astray, as we forgive people who go astray against us; lead us not into hard challenges—no, deliver us from evil. “If you forgive others their lapses, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive you your lapses.” (Matthew 6)

The “mechanization” of this prayer into a rote-memory recitation has, sad to say, cheapened it into a casual and almost “throw-away” prayer—so that other prayers arises from time to time—mantras, slogans, “the ‘Jesus’ Prayer,” and so on.

The Our Father consists of stand-alone phrases, each of which is worth a separate prayerfulness:

“Our father” reminds you that he is the creator who breathes you—and everyone—alive. “In heaven” reminds you there IS another realm available to you, but requiring closeness to this Creator-Person. “Hallowed be Thy Name”—is about spreading the “difference (holy refers to what is different from this world, this generation) a holiness which marks those who bear his name—His children—you and me.

The Good News that underlies this whole prayer is the “thou,” the “you” being seen, loved and talked to. It is not a prayer directed at a vague deity, a liturgical relic chattered through. It is little me talking to a loving father. In that light, the whole prayer shines with its “otherness”—its removal from selfish petitions, from ranting at God or throwing words His way—much less a “force-of-habit” kind of prayer. It is the intimacy of crawling into “Daddy’s lap,” giving Him a kiss goodnight, and saying how much He means, and how little you are—how you hope people discover His goodness through you, how much you are trying to get along with your siblings—that kind of thing. It is faith and it is hope you pray—that you are putting into words.

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