My friend and colleague Joel Nichols opened our Weekly Manna gathering this week by reading a short passage from Michael Himes’ Doing the Truth in Love: Conversations about God, Relationships and Service.
I love Michael Himes and had read this book some time ago, but had forgotten about this passage that Joel read, in which Himes talks about the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer. He writes
Gradually I came to see that the Lord’s Prayer really comes down to two statements repeated in a number of parallel ways. The fist half of the prayer, when we pray that God’s name be hallowed, that God’s kingdom come, and that God’s will be done in heaven and on earth, is simply the petition that God be everything God is: may God be God. The second half of the prayer, when we pray for physical sustenance, for forgiveness, and to be preserved from temptation and delivered from evil, is simply the request the I amy be what I am: may I be your creature. The Lord’s Prayer may be paraphrased, I think, “May God be God, and may I be a creature.”
The more I thought about this, the more I recognized that the great petition of all Christian prayer is that everything be what it is. We pray that God be the fullness of God, and that we may be what it is to be creatures, i.e., fully dependent upon God. And that is the purpose of prayer: to celebrate the goodness, the rightness of precisely what we find so frightening – being a creature. We must come to the point of accepting that we are creatures, and prayer is the celebration of the fact.
There is something so simple and basic in Himes’ words. Let everything be what it is. As I sometimes quip (quoting a line Himes uses elsewhere), God is God and I am not. If we can accept that, everything else becomes so much easier.
Following Joel’ opening of our session, my friend Lynn Arnal gave a beautiful reflection on the love relationship between us and God. It was a blessed gathering!