February 4, 2015

The Lord's Prayer and its Structure of Hope

Those who pray the Lord's prayer with faith take up the effort to see our struggles with the light that is from above, the understanding that comes from God. That is why when it is prayed carefully with devotion, the unvanquished light of heaven shines through each syllable into the depths of one's life and current situation, if only we allow it to.  This is true in the very structure of the prayer Christ entrusted to the Church.

The structure of the Lord's Prayer proposes the primacy of heaven over all other earthly things in our existence, no matter how urgent and insurmountable they seem. Unmet needs (our daily bread), broken relationships (our need to be forgiven and to forgive), and all threats to our dignity and integrity (temptations and the power of evil); all this concerns our life in this world below. These visible realities are subordinated to what is more important, what is more spiritual, more immense, and more beautiful.  No matter how catastrophic or tragic the trial we endure, we must train our hearts that the holiness, the will, the kingdom of the Father all come first.

The beautiful truth in the sacred order Christ laid out for us is that nothing in this world can make absolute claim over our existence.   Our difficulties, failures and inadequacies do not ultimately define who we are or what we are about as people of faith. Something else, from the world above, where the Father dwells, has hold of us and draws us up. The structure of Christ's prayer turns our hearts to the Father, to heaven, even as we confront the difficulties and challenges of this life.