Read the Bible. Reflect and pray.
That is the two-pronged, ultra-simplified vision that we have for our readers. This week and part of next we take some time to curate and comment on some classic readings about prayer that may strengthen and encourage us in the practice of prayer.
Reflection: To Whom We Pray
By John Tillman
Many cultures pray. Some pray with greater frequency, devotion, and earnestness than much of Christianity. But the outcomes of prayer depend more upon the faithfulness of the one who hears, rather than the one who prays. Madeleine L’Engle asks the question, “Whom do we pray to?” in her book, And It Was Good.
“If we are to pray, we must know where our prayers are directed. Jesus prayed to his Father. And here again, we have, in this century, a source of confusion…Jesus called the Master of the Universe Abba—daddy. Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, was a man he could admire…but what about the rest of us, living in this time of extreme sexual confusion?
There was plenty of sexual confusion in Jesus’ world too, especially in the Roman culture where license and perversion were the order of the day. Nevertheless, Jesus constantly referred to his heavenly Father, and he taught us to pray: Our Father.”
Our century is not unique in being obsessed with sex and awash in sexual confusion. The image of fathers is, historically, troublesome for many.
“For those of us who are only confused or hurt by this image…Perhaps it helps to remember that it is an image…a way of groping toward the real.”
L’Engle recognizes some need to overcome broken father images to see God properly and she has a suggestion…
“Some of us may find in the image of the Father the parent that we always longed for, and needed, the parent that our human father never was. What is it that we trust most? Is it the turning of the stars in the heavens? That, for me, is another image of the Creator.”
In coming to know God through prayer, we can transcend false and broken father images with the true image of Abba.
“It is Jesus of Nazareth, the Word as a human being, who calls God Abba…if the Word, as Jesus, could call out, “Abba!” so can I.
We all have our own images, and they nourish us, but ultimately the Lord to whom we pray is beyond all images, all imagining.”
When we begin in prayer with the image of God as our loving father we take the first steps of faith toward our true home and truest family, in the kingdom of God.
May our prayers, and their resulting actions, remake in our own mind and in our world the image of a good father.
*Quotations from And It Was Good, by Madeleine L’Engle
*Good, Good Father — by Housefires
Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning; so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.— Psalm 90:14
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.
2 Kings 25 (Listen -5:24)
Hebrews 7 (Listen -4:01)
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To Whom We Pray