Thursday, June 16, 2011

Into a Life of Prayer; A Journey, Part 4

Links for earlier prayer series posts are here:  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

The Lord's Prayer, Our Model, Vol. 2

Last week we explored the words Our Father, establishing the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. In this post we'll explore Who Art in Heaven, and then separate the preface of the prayer from the seven petitions--the petitions to be explored later.

There is a rather complicated abstract matter we must deal with, and then we'll discuss more practically what this phrase means for our prayers.

Though I've read a number of complicated accounts of the phrase Who Art in Heaven, I still feel unqualified to put these ideas into my own words.  Thus, I offer an excerpt (full article here):

Having shown that God and man are parent and child, he goes on to delineate the function of each in the grand scheme of things. He explains that it is the nature of God to be in heaven, and of man to be on earth, because God is Cause, and man is manifestation. Cause cannot be expression, and expression cannot be cause, and we must be careful not to confuse the two things. Here heaven stands for God or Cause, because in religious phraseology heaven is the term for the Presence of God. In metaphysics it is called the Absolute, because it is the realm of Pure Unconditioned Being, of archetypal ideas. The word "earth" means manifestation, and man's function is to manifest or express God, or Cause (emphasis mine).

In other words, God is the Infinite and Perfect Cause of all things; but Cause has to be expressed, and God expresses Himself by means of man. Man's destiny is to express God in all sorts of glorious and wonderful ways (emphasis mine). Some of this expression we see as his surroundings; first his physical body, which is really only the most intimate part of his embodiment; then his home; his work; his recreation; in short, his whole expression. To express means to press outwards, or bring into sight that which already exists implicity. Every feature of your life is really a manifestation or expression of something in your soul.

Some of these points may seem at first to be a little abstract; but since it is misunderstandings about the relationship of God and man that lead to all our difficulties, it is worth any amount of trouble to correctly understand that relationship. Trying to have manifestation without Cause is atheism and materialism, and we know where they lead. Trying to have Cause without manifestation leads man to suppose himself to be a personal God, and this commonly ends in megalomania and a kind of paralysis of expression.

The important thing to realize is that God is in heaven and man on earth, and that each has his own role in the scheme of things. Although they are One, they are not one-and-the-same. Jesus establishes this point carefully when he says, "Our Father which art in heaven."

A more practical understanding of the phrase Who Art in Heaven, comes in remembering that though God is everywhere, His specific dwelling place is in Heaven, where we will one day go.  We are merely pilgrims here on earth. When we pray we must try to detach ourselves from earthly matters, and put on a homeward mindset. In doing so, we are beginning our prayer by placing ourselves, and our thoughts, in the presence of the Father.  

We must remember our purpose as described above....."to manifest or express God in all sorts of glorious ways".  Notice that expressing ourselves is not mentioned.  We belong to the Father.  We're bought and paid for, through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Most of us probably spend much of our day self-centered. Prayer is the only thing that changes that.  Prayer makes us God-centered.

We must live for Him, express Him, through our every action. That's why we pray!  So we can express Him. Without consistent prayer--which essentially sticks us like glue to the Father--we cannot fulfill our purpose, which is to express God.

Without a prayer life we only express......guess who?


Now that I've completely beat that into you (sorry!), we'll move on.....

Our Father Who Art in Heaven is the preface to the Lord's Prayer.  All other parts of the prayer are considered petitions, of which there are seven.

The first three petitions:  (1) Hallowed be Thy Name; (2) They Kingdom Come; (3) Thy Will Be Done on Earth as it is in Heaven....all pertain to the glory of the Father.  They draw us toward the Father.

The last four petitions present our desires to the Father. (4) give us this Day our daily Bread; (5) And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; (6) And lead us not into temptation; (7) But deliver us from evil.

We'll explore the petitions in the next few installments.

For now, go and express Him!

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