NOTE: I lead the Children’s Service at my church on Sundays. Most weeks I write a reflection on a question from the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Please note that these posts reflect a frank expression of my faith (Reformed Presbyterian) and are specifically aimed at the parents of children at my church.
Q: What is prayer?
A: Prayer is offering our desires to God in the name of Christ for things that agree with His will, confessing our sins, and thankfully recognizing His mercies.
Last month, as part of our formal curriculum on the elements of Sunday worship, we covered prayer, and the Lord’s Prayer in particular.
As it so happened, Father’s Day fell last month, and it gave me the opportunity to frame the Lord’s prayer as analogous to the conversations we might typically have (or should have) with our earthly fathers:
- “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name”: I love that you’re my Dad; I think you’re the best
- “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven”: I’ll obey you because I know you know best; I trust in your leadership
- “Give us this day our daily bread”: Please
- “And forgive us our debts”: I’m sorry
- “As we also have forgiven our debtors”: Help me, I’m hurt
- “Lead us not into temptation”: Help me, this is hard
- “But deliver us from evil”: Help me, I’m scared
- “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever”: You rock; thanks
We’re in the final stretch of the Shorter Catechism, and it is entirely focused on this prayer that Jesus taught to his disciples. It is a prayer that God wants us to have with him, one that is intimate and immediate and childlike.
It is also a prayer that is only possible through the sacrifice of Jesus himself. We invoke his name in all our prayers because it is through the prism of his death and resurrection that our relationship with God is possible. We can say “Our Father” because the curtain in the inner sanctum has been torn in two.
The prayer also reminds us of our own roles as parents: to meet needs, to set a vision, to correct and teach, and to lead with mercy. And, most importantly, to ultimately direct these concerns, confessions, and thanks to the greater parent. Let us try to convert our conversations with our kids into introductions to our Dad.