26 March, 2017

Our Father...4th Sunday in Lent

Cross posted from Fortyfaithful.blogspot.com

There have been times in my life when words failed me.  The day my children were born - I simply had no words.  The day we took our son to rehab - I simply had no words.  The morning my mother died (who celebrates her birthday in heaven tomorrow!) - I simply had no words.  The day my son celebrated five years in recovery - I simply had no words.  Last weekend, as my daughter wed the man of her dreams - I simply had no words.  Please don't misunderstand me as I had plenty of thoughts swirling around inside me in all these instances.  I had memories, I had unabounding love, I had despair, I had deep, deep pain, I had joy, I had hope.  But I had no words.  They were simply stuck somewhere inside me.
What I've described above is one very, simple life of a human with everyday joy, stress and strain. But the men and women living and working around Jesus, were they any different from me and you?  Yes, I believe they were unique in that they completely gave us their lives and work to literally follow Jesus everywhere he traveled.  And certainly their spirituality is not in question.  But neither is their 'human-ness'.  They struggled like us.  I just know in my heart that their words got stuck inside of their heads!  Then came...Jesus.  He was so different.  He was so alive.  He was so loving and forgiving and accepting.  And he prayed...like... everywhere!  Not just in the church or at mealtime or at bedtime but always, it seems.
Matthew Henry, states this in his commentary, "Christ pray[ed] often...: when he was baptized, he was praying; he withdrew into the wilderness, and prayed; he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer; he was alone praying."  His disciples saw Him praying.  And I believe we can assume that the method and frequency of Jesus' prayer life was quite different than that of his followers.  Something or everything struck them as different for they asked him..."Lord, teach us to pray". Luke 11:1
I, too say these words today...Lord, teach me to pray.  There are times that I don't know how to express the thoughts, feelings, concerns, and worry that fill my days.  
And what was Jesus' answer?  Look closely at the reading from Matthew, just before the Lord's Prayer, as we call it, Jesus gives us beautiful instruction.  He says, 'But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen...And don't babble by using a lot of words....for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This, then is how you should pray:  Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matt. 6:6-9)
I'll be honest with some of my thoughts.  Perhaps I want to pray the right way and that blocks my real communication with God.  Perhaps those Sunday morning times of prayer in the church service leave me hollow.  Perhaps prayer is not about using any words.  Perhaps prayer is first, getting alone with God...just alone with no time schedule and no agenda.  In our effort to pray the right way we've missed the first step in Jesus' instruction....go into your room, close the door...and pray.  

Occasionally, I attend a noon communion service...where I am a visitor and know almost no one attending.  Oftentimes, the very best part of this small service is arriving early and sitting in the silence of the beautiful chapel.  No words do I speak, no action do I take.  I am simply there...present, needing connection, waiting, breathing...and most every time tears come for He has met me.  It's the alone time, the silence, the 'going away' where I find Him.
What happens when you go into your private place to think, or contemplate or cry or scream?  What happens when your words are stuck inside of you?  As we go into our rooms of prayer today, take time to be quiet.  That's right...just be...just sit.  Let your spirit free by using no words for just a few minutes.  Then pray the prayer Jesus taught us... slowly...in phrases...thinking about what the words mean to you...
Our Father... 
He is your Father, He is my Father, He is the Father of the world and He hears and He loves and He answers.  He is Father to those I don't like too much and He is Father to those who don't even know it.  My Father, I come to you today...
In Heaven... 
I am here in my little world.  And You are in your Eternal world.  You are Infinite and I am finite.  I praise you for the hope of eternal life and that You live and reign in heaven today and you live in me today.
Your Kingdom come... 
I hope in your Glory and in your Power and in the world to come.  I trust in You and that you will come in Your time. 
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven... 
It is Your will that I desire for my will is ignorant, self-serving and naive.  Your will is perfect for the world and for me.  I choose Your will today.

Time with no words, words for every part of life, time with no words...that's my prayer outline.  Will you join me today on this part of the Lent journey?  Will you take time and find your closet and stop the babble and just BE with OUR FATHER?

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