Intimacy and Authority

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

So often when I was growing up and said this, it gave me a picture of God.  Our Father in heaven was like saying “our God who is way up in some place really far away that no one has ever seen.” It felt like a confession of distance, as though my prayer was beginning with the realization that God is actually far away.  Then in turn the rest of the prayer kind becomes this request that since God is so far away and busy would he mind helping me with just a couple of things.  I never felt the gravity and depth of the prayer.

When our children were first born I began to think about how I would teach them to follow Jesus, and specifically how I would teach them to pray.  Praying can seem like such a weird thing, and I can only imagine that for a small child there are aspects of it that feel strange.  My son never asked me, dad can you teach me to pray; he would remind me to pray at times though.

One night I decided that if I wanted him to grow to be a man of prayer I needed to teach him a prayer that he could say.  So I started praying the same prayer, and over time he started praying it with me, then he began to pray it on his own.  It goes something like this:

Dear Jesus, please bless Gracie and Mommy, Elijah and Daddy.  Would you help the people in Haiti to have food and water and comfort and toys (this was added after the earthquake and has kind of just stuck) Bless grandma and grandpa and all our friends and family.  Would your kingdom come in our lives and in our world.  In Your precious name, Amen.

These are the words we discovered together, and they are fluid at times.  But they have given our family a specific way to speak to God together, to enter into this thing called prayer together.  Prayer is a beautiful mystery like all things intimate about relationships.  It is a way that God has invited us into dialogue with him.  It is about intimacy and relationship.  I am not sure what my son and daughter think when they pray this; what they feel or believe.  What I do know is that this prayer has invited them into a conversation with the Creator of all things, and that it has invited them into a dynamic relationship with a God who they have a real relationship with.  Out of this simple prayer have been so many others.  Just the other night my daughter was feeling sick, so my son grabbed my hand to pray and got down on his knees and prayed for his sister.  He’s 5, and I am not sure he has ever seen anyone on their knees praying, but this is what flowed out a little boy who is living in the reality that prayer matters and God cares.

Our Father in Heaven invites us to an intimate relationship with our father and creator, and the in Heaven invites us to an understanding of His authority.  Heaven is not about space, it is about his throne being above all other thrones.  So I pray with my kids, I invite them to speak to the God who is present with us, and I try to teach them that this God who is present is the true King of everything.

Questions to think about:

– What words do you pray that make God actually feel distant?  What words make him feel very present?

– How do you pray?  What are the words you tend to use?  What are the situations or moment in life when you tend to pray?

– How would you teach someone else to pray if they asked you?

– Re-write this sentence in your own words, what words would you use to start a prayer that would include intimacy and authority?


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