It was kind of funny late yesterday afternoon as I was talking to my son in California. He was at work outside on the tarmac at the Sacramento International Airport. Just as he was telling me that he had accidently left his cap in his locker and was concerned about burning the top of his head as it was in the mid-seventies at the time, I looked outside our back windows and noticed that it had begun to sleet and then snow on our side of the country! And that it did for most of the evening and morning hours up until about 7:00 AM today.
We woke up to about an inch of snow covering the parking lot and roofs of our apartment community. For a California boy, it was an exhilarating experience! Once again it reminded me of my time at the Home Depot in Oklahoma. Because of my school attendance and unavailability to work during the morning hours, I had to be listed on the books as a part-time employee according to the company’s policies. The store manager at the time was very willing to work with me though, and told me that she would always try to schedule me for forty hours each week, even if it meant moving me anywhere in the store as required.
So come the first snow storm of the year, I found myself out in the parking lot collecting carts! After about an hour of that it suddenly dawned on me why many of my co-workers were snickering every time I came in with a row of carts. They figured that since I was the California boy, that I wouldn’t know any better than to stay out of the cold, wet, slippery weather while they were in the warm comfortable store! And they were right… but it was all new and exciting to me at the time so I didn’t mind the cold!
The only time it bothered me was one night after the store had closed and I was left outside in the icy cold, snowy and windy night waiting for Piper to come and pick me up! I finally found some protection from the wind behind the bundles of firewood that we had stacked near the entrance doors! I was never so happy to see her and that big green Suburban as I was that night… even though it had more to do with the warm seats and the heater than with her company! (Don’t tell her I said that!)
Back to Josh in California… In some respects I think that our relationship has improved since we returned from Oklahoma. Not that it was bad before, but the situation with Piper has made me a lot more introspective and open, whereas before I tended to keep things inside!
I considered my son’s and my relationship today as I continued to read from Matthew chapter six concerning what most Christians have dubbed as “The Lord’s Prayer.” I realized as I meditated on the prayer that this was probably the first real scripture that I memorized in my childhood. It was a prayer that we recited aloud every Sunday at church during the liturgy of the Mass and whenever I prayed the Rosary (which wasn’t that often!)
Over the years since then, I have heard many diverse teachings on this prayer. In the late 1980’s I began to use Dr. Larry Lea’s guide for praying The Lord’s Prayer as a guide for my daily intercessions with the Lord. If I remember correctly, this guide laid out a specific outline so that one could easily pray (or tarry as he stated) for an hour a day. Up until that time I had never been able to pray that long and his guide helped me to attain a breakthrough in my prayer life.
As I was reading the prayer beginning with Matthew 6:9 yesteray, I began to gain a personal understanding that Jesus was implying that this prayer has more to do with our relationship with Papa God than it does in teaching a specific form of prayer. In the verses previous to the prayer we find Him talking about the way that the non-believers prayed, tagging their repetitive use of words as “empty phrases.” (English Standard Version) Then He contrasts their distant non-personal approach to God to our intimate personal relational interactions by encouraging us to address Him as “Our Father…”
I hope to share more on this thought over the week, but for now I would encourage you to take a few moments today and take a look at the depth of your relationship with Papa God. Are you comfortable at being yourself around Him? Are you bluntly honest with Him when you converse with Him, or do you tend to speak in “Thee’s” and “Thou’s?”
I still remember the first time I heard my Episcopalian brother-in-law pray over a meal at our house after he and my sister were married in the early 1970’s. He did not simply recite a prayer – like we good Catholics had always done- but he spoke to God like He was in normal conversation with Him! If I had dared to sneak a peek at the other family members seated around my folk’s large dining room table, I am sure that I would have seen many an arched eyebrow! But you know… it forever changed the way we prayed over our meals! Suddenly we were free to talk to God as a father and friend, and not through rout words simply repeated before we ate!
How do you pray? How do you interact with our Papa God? Have a great day. Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or How am I expecting to pray today?”