Wednesday, July 21, 2010
A great blue heron on a neighbor's pontoon boat in the early morning.
In Luke 11:1-13 Jesus tells us to pray to God as "Father." In Luke's time most fathers had absolute authority so it is important for Jesus to help his hearers to understand in what sense God is father. Today, also, thinking of God as Father is not helpful for some people. Their father may have been stern, even cruel and abusive. Or he may have been an alcoholic, very unreliable.
Jesus wants us to see God as a generous and compassionate father, someone we can count on to provide for us and care for us. He wants us to have a nurturing relationship with God our Father, similar to that we often see between young fathers today and their children. In our prayer we can let God hold us in a warm, loving embrace.
My own father was very understanding and forgiving. I remember only once getting a spanking from him with a strap. I don't remember what it was for. What I remember is that he was crying when he stopped. The father Jesus tells us about in the parable of the Prodigal Son loves and forgives unconditionally.
Jesus even encourages us to pester God for whatever we want. Like a good father, God will not always give us what we want, but he will always give us what we need. Jesus concludes by pointing out that what we need most is the Holy Spirit, a gift we can be sure our reliable Father will always give us.