Our Father

There was a period of time when I did not like the Lord’s Prayer (or the Our Father).  I thought it was sexist and presented a theology I didn’t appreciate or believe.  Especially after I learned from Judy Brutz to write in my own words what each part of the prayer meant for me, I was able to open to it more.  And as time has gone on and I have prayed the prayer, new things have come to me.

One thing I have liked about the prayer is its having been prayed for centuries and by people all over the world.  Currently most of the hours of the day it must be being prayed somewhere.  That feels like such a uniting force.  I value the “Our” in the prayer.  This God to whom we pray belongs to all of us—not to only one of us or to only one group of us.  We all belong to God.  And in God we all are in relationship with each other.

Only recently have I appreciated the naming of God as “Father” in this prayer.  To have been fathered is to have been given birth, to bear some of the genetic makeup of that father.  How wonderful to think that as a child of the Father, we bear characteristics of the Father.  As Friends say, “there is that of God in each of us.”  There is a kinship and a commonality that we share with all people.  There is in us that which reflects God’s being if we will let it.  We don’t have to create that nature; it is already present in us.  What joy to grow into that inheritance.


How does the Our Father/Lord’s Prayer function in your life?

What helps you feel one with God and all of creation?  How are you called to make real that oneness?


Pray the Lord’s Prayer (the Our Father).  The value of this prayer does not depend on your beliefs or feelings.  To simply repeat it makes a difference, whether you notice that difference or not.  If it helps, put the prayer into words that are meaningful to you at this time.

For further reflection:

“To [his saints] God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

“The Father . . . will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.  This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you” (See John 14: 15-17).

[Of the Lord’s Prayer] “what you do not understand, treat with reverence and be patient, and what you do understand, cherish and keep” (St. Augustine: Sermons for Christmas and Epiphany, trans. by Thomas Comerford Lawler, Newman Press, 1952, p. 70).


Watch and Wait

A woman suffered from a terrible headache.  When she went to the emergency room, she came home with a diagnosis of an inoperable brain tumor.  Her friend, surrounding her with love, began to watch and wait.  The friend didn’t panic or try to find a way to fix what wasn’t fixable.  She simply was present, resting in God, holding the woman in Love.  Of course the friend hurt, grieved, wondered why it had to be.  And she celebrated their friendship.  She held all these feelings in an inner place of quiet and trust, as she carried the woman in her heart and her prayer.

I was on retreat, giving time and focus to preparing upcoming talks.  For a while I tried to push my way through the work I had to do.  I read relevant material from book after book, continuing even when I was sleepy and losing interest.  The harder I worked, the less useful the work was.  Remembering I was on a spiritual retreat, I stopped the pushing and controlling.  I surrendered and began to watch and wait.  I listened to what my body needed.  I did things that brought joy.  And when I heard in my heart that it was time to do more preparation, I turned to that, receiving what was given me.

To watch and wait is important in the contemplative life–a life grounded in God, being seated at the feet of Jesus, open to the leading of the Spirit.  Its opposite is busyness, being preoccupied with what is coming next, rushing from one thing to another and never being fully present anywhere.   When we watch and wait, we are inwardly and outwardly attentive, mindful, observant, prayerful, and present with our hearts open and tender.  In order to be so, we will be surrendered and trusting in Holy Mystery.


Being in limbo can be a time of high anxiety and stress or an invitation to watch and wait.  What has been your experience?

What allows you to live in the quiet surrender of watching and waiting?


“Stay with me.  Remain here with me.  Watch and pray. Watch and pray.” (Sing this Taize chant over and over.  It invites a felt sense of being present with Jesus and of Jesus being present with you.)

For further reference:

“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2).

“Only in God is my being quiet.  From God is my rescue.  Only God is my rock and my rescue, my stronghold—I shall not stumble” (Psalm 62: 1-2, Robert Alter, The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary).

Hands-On Prayer

As a chaplain I attended Quakers in Pastoral Care and Counseling (QPCC). We were divided into small groups for sharing about our work situations. At the end of those sessions we prayed for one another, putting one person at a time in the center of the group. That person shared specific joys, concerns, and hopes. The other group members gathered around the person, touching the person (being sensitive to what was comfortable for the focus person and the pray-ers) and praying for her or him aloud and silently. I left those sessions feeling encouraged, supported, and grounded in God.

In another small group of which I am currently a part, we used this practice in praying for persons in the group. Although we had earlier acknowledged questions and qualms about intercessory prayer, the impact of this intercessory praying was palpable and powerful. Love and care, compassion and a sense of oneness literally coursed through our bodies. I would have to say that the bond we sensed between us was more than a human connection. And I feel confident that the experience meant as much to those who prayed as to those who were prayed for. We were all touched by the presence and love of God.

Obviously the focus person can share a need for his or her own healing. But the person can also carry a concern for someone else’s healing and be the vehicle for prayers for that other person. And this prayer is a great way for sending a person off on a mission or back into the workplace and ordinary life, an occasion of thanksgiving and blessing. What is required for this kind of praying is simple, and hard—being willing to be vulnerable with one another and with God.


How have you felt God’s touch in your life? If God touched you, would you notice?

How do you find the loving line between sensitivity to the wounds people have suffered from being hurtfully touched and extending a physical expression of God’s love?


Find a way to express God’s love in a tangible way, or notice how someone else has given that gift to you.

For further reflection:

“Some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.” (See Mark 8: 22-26.)

“Mind that which is eternal, which gathers your hearts together up to the Lord, and lets you see that ye are written in one another’s heart.” George Fox (Epistle 24, 1653)