Everything Starts with Seeing God as Father

Amid life's chaos and uncertainties, a timeless invitation exists to connect with the divine. This invitation transcends the mundane and offers solace amidst the storms. This invitation is encapsulated within the profound words of the Lord's Prayer, a prayer that was Jesus’ response to being asked how to pray.

This week we focus on the introduction, "Our Father in heaven,” and the first petition, “Hallowed be thy name."

Unpacking the Introduction

The significance of addressing the divine as "Our Father" cannot be overstated. It serves as the cornerstone of our spiritual understanding, inviting us to perceive the universe through the lens of loving fatherly connection rather than fear. In recognizing God as our Father, we acknowledge His role as the ultimate provider, nurturer, and guide.

The Nature of Our Father

Contrary to misconceptions propagated by rigid dogmas, God is not a distant judge or a cosmic disciplinarian. Nor has the universe been created and left to run its course without the continual care of the creator. Instead, He embodies the essence of paternal love, offering solace and unconditional love to His children. God always wants the best for you. You can trust that because, as Jesus taught us, God is our Father in Heaven. God maintains a profound relationship with humanity through His providence, guidance, and boundless love. Through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Father shows His justice and His forgiveness. God shows that he does not negate the principles of justice but does what it takes to offer his beloved children (That's you!) mercy, redemption, love, and new life.

Trusting in Divine Providence

Drawing parallels between earthly fathers and our heavenly Father, we recognize the inherent goodness of God's provision. Just as a caring father tends to the needs of his children, God ensures the sustenance and well-being of His creation. His provision extends beyond the material realm, encompassing the spiritual nourishment essential for our growth and fulfillment.

Guided by Divine Wisdom

In His infinite wisdom, God offers us guidance and instruction, illuminating the path towards righteousness, peace, and joy. Through His Word and the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit, God empowers us to navigate life's complexities with clarity and discernment.

Embracing Unconditional Love and Forgiveness

Central to God's paternal role is His unwavering love and boundless forgiveness. In embracing us as His beloved children, God extends grace beyond measure, inviting us to experience the depths of His compassion and mercy. Through His sacrificial love, exemplified in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God beckons us towards reconciliation and redemption.

Hallowing the Divine Name

This first petition does not ask that God’s name be holy because God’s name is holy with or without us. We are asking that God’s name be shown as holy in our lives. “Holy” can be a hard word to nail down. The core concepts behind “holy” are the idea of separateness and purity. (You can explore “holy” more deeply in the Tuesday devotion of this week’s Lenten devotions available here: Week 1 Lenten Devotions.) As soon as we hear “purity,” we often begin to think of moral codes, sets of rules what we must obey. Jesus reminds us that all of God’s rules grow out of two simple rules: Love God, love others. So “holiness” is much more than being good at following a list of rules for behaving properly.

Living Out Holiness through Love

True holiness transcends mere adherence to moral codes; it emanates from a heart overflowing with love and compassion. Rooted in the fundamental commandments to love God and love our neighbors, holiness finds expression in acts of kindness, empathy, and genuine concern for others. As the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:4–7 (CEV), “Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do. Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil. Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting.”

The Imperative of Love

As ambassadors of God's love, we are called to embody the transformative power of love in our daily lives. Through acts of kindness, forgiveness, and empathy, we hallow God's name and bear witness to His redemptive grace.

Embracing Imperfection with Grace

In our journey towards holiness, we inevitably encounter moments of frailty and imperfection. Yet, it is through our shortcomings that we learn the true meaning of grace. As imperfect beings, we find solace in God's unending love and forgiveness, knowing that His grace is more than sufficient for our inadequacies. Nobody scolds a small child when she is learning to walk. If the child falls, the parent picks her up, gives her a hug, tells her to keep going and try again, she will get it. We are all still learning to walk through life. God our heavenly Father treats us the same way when we fall through unkindness, lack of compassion, a fit of anger or frustration, or any of myriad ways we don’t think, speak or behave in loving ways. Our heavenly Father picks us up, gives us a hug, and tells us to keep going because we’ll get it.

Embrace the Divine Invitation

The introduction, "Our Father in heaven,” invites us not only to pray, but to see our entire world in a new and wonderful way. To pray “Our Father in heaven,” is to see our world as created and actively loved by our Father in heaven. As we navigate the complexities of life, we are not alone and not without purpose. The boundless love, forgiveness, and direction of God our Father in heaven go with us every step of the way.

The first petition, “Hallowed be Thy name,” grows out of a thankful heart that reciprocates the love the Father has for us. We make our Father’s name sacred and wonderful not by following a list of rules (and, usually, judging those who don’t) but by daily contemplating and growing in what it means to live a life based in love for God and love for others.

Grace and peace to you!