I’ve recently been reflecting on the prayer Jesus taught us to pray. I believe it was the 17th century French church leader, Jeanne Guyon, who recommended the practice of praying the scriptures by reciting a familiar scripture word by word. You reflect on each word until you have taken in all the meaning before you move on to the next word of the scripture. It is a practice I enjoy when I’m trying to relax or just as I am falling asleep.
Praying this way encourages me to receive His meaning more deeply. I know eachword has meaning and purpose. God has shown me a deeper understanding of thefirst word of the prayer Jesus taught us to pray.
It is striking that the prayer begins with the word "Our." I’vealways thought how awesome it is that Jesus taught us to pray "Our Father," notMy Father. Jesus really wants us to think about God as our Father when we pray.He is Omnipotent, Omniscient, Holy and so much more…yet in spite of thisHe wants us to know Him as Father. That’s incredible in itself.
Although I have practiced praying the scriptures using the Lord’s prayeron many occasions and have pondered the meaning of the word "Our" severaltimes, this time it brought deeper meaning and understanding to me about howI relate to all the Christians in this world.
As I meditated on the word "Our," I begin to think of all the manypeople that are included in this "Our." I thought of people I loveand respect who call God, Father. I thought of others in whom I’m ashamedof how they are reflecting on the church of Christ. I considered the Christianswith whom I am deeply disappointed in their interpretation of Scripture and theway they live their lives. Suddenly it hit me: They are a part of the "Our" withme. When I pray "Our Father," I am praying with anyone who believesin the power of the name of Jesus, whether I like the way they are living outtheir faith or not. I found a wider vision of my Heavenly Father. I realizedthat His desire is for us to pray in unity. It helped me to realize that I mustnot think I have God and the Christian life all figured out perfectly. I’msure that I’m doing some things right, but perhaps I’m a little offeven in some of the areas that I find so hard to accept from those ChristiansI disagree with so strongly. Whether I agree with them or not, they are partof the "Our." Perhaps our differences, when put together with God’slove, would show us that each of us is a little right and a little wrong at thesame time.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling your to tolerate what you feelin your spirit is incorrect. The people that I’m talking about are notpeople that I have personal associations with. They are people that I have beenjudging as not doing the spiritual life the right way. In my prayer of "Our," Ibegan to see my judgment of them and for the first time saw how harmful it isto my own life. If God includes them in the "Our," why should I getout of sorts by them? God is the one who will set them straight, just like Heneeds to do with me. I need to keep my focus on Father and let God work out the "Our" asonly He can do.
God is the God who wants us to know He is ours. He wants us to claim Him as ourown. He claims us as His children and He teaches us to know that we plural havea Father. We may not fully understand Him as He really is, or there wouldn’tbe so many denominations and differences in our theology, but one thing we havein common is that the more we call on Him as Our Father, the closer we will growto knowing Him as He really is.