"Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one."
It's quite a thought on any day, let alone the day that marks what would have been my Dad's 85th birthday. Jesus has just brought a whole new dimension to the way his rag-tag band of disciples are to think ... and pray. They are to approach the Almighty, Sovereign God of the Universe as they would their own fathers. I'm quite sure they are dumbstruck at the mere thought, let alone carrying out simple but elegant prayer.
And we're not talking some distant, hard-hearted patriarch here. We're talking an intimate, present, active person ... the one they could call "Abba" or "Daddy". He isn't angry or judging (like a friend of mine who is struggling with a pastor that seems to represent that point of view). He's welcoming and accepting. Sure he is holy, but he makes that holiness accessible to us in a wonderfully simple way. And he calls us his children, allowing us to address him in this very personal way ... "Our Father ..."
I've lived more of my life without my Dad than I did with him. It has softened a bit over the nearly 27 years, but it still embodies a rather deep ache - a longing for something lost. If I let the concept Jesus is offering sink in - really take over my soul - I will find some level of relief for that ache. I will look ahead on my Crooked Path and know that my Father is very real, very accessible, and very interested in me. He loves to hear me pray a simple prayer like this one. I can trust him as I would my own Dad because that's who he is.