The Book of Common Prayer invites us to the observance of a holy Lent by reminding us "of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith." [BCP p. 265]  To help us to renew our repentance and faith this Lent, we offer a series of reflections on the Lord's Prayer.  

The Gospels tell us that Jesus was a man of prayer.  Prior to beginning his public ministry, Jesus went to the desert for a long time to commune with God in prayer.  During his public ministry, Jesus often prayed with others and he also spent time alone in prayer.  His dying words, spoken from the cross, were words of prayer.  

The Lord's Prayer is the first one that many of us learned to pray.  I've always found it enlightening that Jesus' disciples did not ask him to teach them how to perform a miracle or how to preach an effective sermon.  Rather, they asked him "Lord, teach us to pray..." [Luke 11:1]  
These Lenten Reflections are the fruit of a collaborative effort by clergy and lay members of St. Paul's.  Our hope is that they will bring a fresh perspective to the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray.  May they provide you with some nourishment as you journey through Lent. 

"Our Father, who art in heaven"
To pray these first six words of the Lord's prayer is to recognize our most core truth, which is a shared truth: we are all created by the same source of divine love.  With its very first word, "Our," the Lord's prayer invites us into community.  God is not "my" God.  From its opening salutation, the prayer of Jesus teaches us that we are connected, and that we live our faith in relationship with God and with others.  

While I am personally blessed to call to mind many positive connotations when I consider the word "father," I am painfully aware of the fact that for many people "father" is a word that evokes more sadness than comfort.  I know many people who pray the Lord's prayer to "Mother," or "Comforter," or "Divine Protector," etc.  To address God as one who loves us unconditionally is what is at the heart of the prayer of Jesus.  True love knows no conditions and true love can do no harm.

The One who creates us, the One who loves us unconditionally, dwells in heaven.  In the context of the Lord's prayer, heaven is not simply an "out of this world" place, but rather, it is a state of being.  Where love is, there is God.  To pray as Jesus taught us is to fix ourselves on love, on the willingness to give of ourselves for the good of the other.  
Submitted by
The Rev. Paul Kane

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