Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love

All Praise Be to the Father

All Praise Be to the Father

When I was working as a chaplain one aspect of my job was to go into patient’s rooms after they were admitted and just let them know the hospital offered chaplaincy services and if they needed something to page me and I would ask them if they wanted prayer. Most of the time I got a “I’m good thank you”, and occasionally “I’ve got my own pastor”. A few would say yes to prayer and even rarer, but the most enjoyable, were the ones who opened up when I came in and we would have a nice conversation.
One of these conversations came from an elderly lady who was very ill but when I went in and did my opening spiel she asked me to have a seat ‘join her’ for a while and I did. She told me she wanted to give me her testimony and started telling me about her life. She said that she had been an abandoned baby, literally left on someone’s doorstep. A family took her in but she was horribly abused and taken from them and passed around from home to home, none of which were good situations and in most of the places she was continually mistreated. But she told me that while she was never taken to church, she somehow sensed a presence of a heavenly Father in her life - one that didn’t abuse her; a father who loved her and even though she didn’t really understand who he was, he was there for her in those dark moments, late at night when she was alone. It was this heavenly Father that got her through these difficult years growing up. When she finally was old enough to go out on her own she became involved with church and finally realized who this heavenly Father was; this father who had been with her through her entire life. And even though she now had a picture of who he was, she knew that he had always been with her. I said something to her like, “I’m surprised you have such a positive picture of the heavenly Father considering the earthly Fathers you knew.” She answered me, “Yes, that was the whole thing. Every earthly Father I knew hurt me, but I knew I had a Father who loved me and that is all that mattered.” What a power testimony and that story has stuck with me and has really helped me understand what it means to have a heavenly Father - earthly Fathers can be wonderful but we know they aren’t perfect - and yet in those moments when we need that fatherly care, we can always remember we do have a perfect Father who is with us all the time - who holds us and loves us and provides for us - and sometimes helps to correct the path we are on!
So when we pray the Lords prayer and we start out ‘Our Father’ we are acknowledging this perfect father who lives in heaven so he has a wide view of everything that is going on and wants only the best for us. We pray with the full knowledge that this Father has his ear tuned into us and hears every word and knows everything we need and everything about us. This Father has no personal agenda other than what is best for us. Isn’t that wonderful to know….
If we really think about it, it puts this prayer into perspective. We aren’t just reciting something we have learned, but we are bringing ourselves into the presence of the Almighty God - but not a distant, entity out there somewhere, but a Father. When we say the prayer we are to envision those times in our youth where we climb up on daddy’s lap and talk to him and feel that love and security….
Then our prayer continues, “Hallowed be thy name”. Now it is the time to acknowledge how truly great God really is. Yes, he’s like a Daddy, but a Daddy with ultimate power. We ‘hallow” God which means we God the honor due him and before we start asking God for stuff, our daily bread, our forgiveness, help to avoid temptation, we praise him. We give value to him. We remember who God is - I kind of think of God sometimes as the the Wizard of Oz before we found out he was the little man behind the curtain. Remember “I am the great and power wizard of OZ” and that big booming voice and the big enormous head in the cloud. And not to be frivolous with it but there was a great power in that image. It makes you fall to your knees.
That is the picture we often get when we read scripture. This hallowing God, worshipping God, that is so powerful we fall to our knees. Revelation 4:8-11 gives us this picture (Read).

At the beginning of the prayer, while we begin with this idea of a loving caring Father, we continue with a bigger understanding of who God is. God is the creator of the universe, the creator of all things, the God who can part the red sea and rain down hail fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah. The God who encompasses all the power and might we could ever imagine. The God who has so much control of the forces of nature he can raise his son, and raise us, from the dead. The God who can do what we think is impossible. The God who is so great whose presence brings us to our knee.
By putting this moment of praise, of worship, at the beginning of the prayer we are saying that the primary purpose of this prayer and of our life is to join the angels and sing Glory to God!
1 Peter 4:11 says:
11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
As people of God, everything we do should be an act of worship. The word worship means according to Webster’s:
to honor with extravagant love and extreme submission. If you go back to the root, the word comes from a word that means simply “to give worth or value to something”. We open our prayer with the idea that we are coming before someone we need to value - in an extreme and extravagant way. Not just during this prayer, not just so we can get what we want, not just during this hour in the sanctuary, but all the time in everything we do. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “Do everything for the glory of God.”
We get ready to say the Lord’s prayer. In our minds as we begin this prayer is this dual image of who we are talking to - cause I think that is what the beginning of this prayer is all about. These are not words we recite because we know them by heart and it is what we are suppose to do. We are speaking these words to the entity we honor and worship as our God. When we begin this prayer we should do so with the picture in our minds of coming before this great and powerful one who created you, who created the world around you, and yet tells you to climb on his lap and call him ‘Daddy’.
And at the same time we envision ourselves as before the great and powerful God whose very presence makes us fall to our knees. A God who tells us that this should not only be our attitude when we begin this prayer, but all the time in everything we do.
It is pretty powerful.
Lent becomes a time when we consider our attitude towards God. What do you really think about God and when do you really think about God and how do you think about God. To consider the fact that we are God’s people and God calls us to give him value, to worship him, in everything we do.
So the next question becomes, what does that look like? How do I do that?
It is just a matter of keeping in our mind - is what I am doing right now honoring God? Would God be pleased with what I am doing right now? Am I acting on Loving my neighbor as myself and loving God will all my heart” in the decisions I am making?
Sounds like a lot….. Sounds hard… and it is. And we don’t like to hear hard things…. Nothing about Lent is easy. You are told to spend 40 days in self examination and self reflection. We are called to spend 40 days considering our sins and we are called to spend 40 days thinking how we can see God as a loving, caring Father and as a powerful creator of the universe who literally can do anything.
We need to spend the next 40 days thinking about how our attitude can be one that honors God in everything we do.