Create + Write + Inspire
Our Father
by Jennifer Kelly on November 21st, 2014

My youngest daughter, Khloe, made the cutest cutout, paper plate turkey the other day. She always walks through the door after coming home from school like a tornado. Bright-eyed, ear-to-ear grin, and pure excitement that beams off her beautiful face. If there's one thing about Khloe, it is her ability to light up a room in an instant.

"Mom! Mom. Look Mom! Look what I made at school. It's a turkey. Do you love it Mom?"

When Khloe shows me her turkey, she almost says it in a song.

She stands and waits for a response. Her eyes don't blink, her head does not move, her whole body stands steadfast. To her, everything that she has accomplished at school that day depends on my view of her work.

Whoa. And I get that opportunity to validate her, to encourage her, to love on her every-single-day. 

And I do. I adore the paper turkey with crooked feathers and yellow eyes. But I adore her attitude of coming home and wanting to make me happy and proud. Thanksgiving is merely a week away. And as I think about the history, the traditions, the food and the tables where families and friends gather; I can't help but think if my own Father in heaven is happy and proud...

There's this prayer in Matthew that Jesus uses as an example to teach us how to pray. It's been stuck in my mind lately. But not all of it. Just the very beginning of it:

"Our Father in heaven
Hallowed by Your name"

This tiny, starting point of the prayer is what I have been repeating over-and-over again (in and throughout) my daily routine lately.

This prayer that has been recited throughout time and all over the world. This sacred prayer that has its own history and traditions in a myriad of ways to many different people.

Kind of like Thanksgiving.
Actually - a lot like Thanksgiving.

You should know, there are a lot of reasons why I LOVE Thanksgiving.  Turkey and gravy, potatoes and green bean casserole, bread and pumpkin pie. It's so simple and so kind and gentle. I enjoy the history of it. The reminder of all the people who were involved in the origin of our country. In 1863, how President Abraham Lincoln declared a day to give thanks for "general blessings".

I especially adore the idea of gathering around the table, being intentional at being grateful, spending time with our family and friends, and inviting or giving out food to those who might be without (or all alone) during the holidays.

But what does the Lord's prayer have anything to do with Thanksgiving?
Perhaps everything.

As I'm thumbing through recipes, planning traveling accommodations and getting my family prepared for this Thanksgiving holiday, I just keep on reciting, "Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name" over-and-over-and-over again. 

I've been down this road before. The road of repetition. God seems to use it a lot to teach me things. He likes to put Scripture in my mind and leave it there.

And I like that, but this time I couldn't get passed it.
So, I held on to it.
Almost like a wish.

I repeated it.
I journaled about it.
I referenced the Lord's prayer and studied it.

What does this have anything to do with the celebration of Thanksgiving?

"Our Father in heaven
Hallowed by Your name"

And then I wondered how many times I've skipped over that very beginning part of the prayer. Honestly, I like where it says, "...Give us... Forgive us... Do not lead us..." part of the prayer.

You know, the part where it gets to us.
I tend to pay a little more attention to the words at that point.

And then I thought about all the people. You know, all of us. Like EVERYONE here in America. All the tables and dining rooms with people. The churches, the diners, the retirement homes filled with people on Thanksgiving.

Most of us, if not all of us, will sit around a table of some kind on Thursday next week.
All of us.
From various walks of life, advantages, disadvantages, poor, rich, humble, weak and strong.
This beautiful mystery that IS humanity.

I imagine all the faces, the stories, the dreams and the love. I imagine the familiar wrinkles, the laughs, the memories of those who are no longer with us, and the bittersweet moments. Thanksgiving is this unique time that fills our hearts and our appetites.

Apple pie and a warm blanket shared with gratitude is quite magical.

And there it was. Us. All of us. Taking the time out of our day. To bow our heads and pray and say "Thank you Father". Here's our turkey. Here's our family, all crooked and cut out of paper plates. Do you love it? Are you happy?

I want to stand there steadfast.

I have so much to be thankful for.
The rich blessings that is simply my family, my health, my country and my faith.

"Our Father in heaven
Hallowed be Your name

What a breathtaking picture of being thankful. To be able and call upon the name of the Lord, to enter His gates with Thanksgiving and praise, to bow our heads and pray to 'Our Father in heaven'. No matter who you are, where you come from or what you are going through.

And I confess, I skip over this SO much.

First of all, I hardly pray and address God as, 'Our Father' anymore. I am selfish even with God. My Savior. My friends. My family. My food. My Thanksgiving. And maybe that's why Jesus starts His prayer out that way. To pray with, 'Our Father', takes me out of the equation.

Jesus whispers of unity, community, all, everyone, us, 'OUR' the very beginning.
Jesus ushers the heart of thanksgiving in with the very first word.

And that's it. That's the part of being thankful. The very hard part that humbles my heart and incorporates the whole of humanity. Yes, "Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name".

And I think that's so amazing and beautiful. It's the simple and kind and gentle part of being thankful. And honestly, I pass-right-on-by-it. In the rush, in the travel, in life, I pass by thankfulness and the starting point of prayer. This simple, gentle prayer that Jesus taught us so long ago...

Andrew Murray wrote, "For the sake of God's glory, let us learn to pray well... When we seek our own glory among men, we make faith impossible. Only the deep, intense self-sacrifice that gives up its own glory and seeks the glory of God wakens in the soul that spiritual susceptibility to Divine faith. The surrender to God and the expectation that He will show us His glory in hearing us are essential. Only he who seeks God's glory will see it in the answer to his prayer"

To learn to pray well is learning to be thankful. It is self-sacrifice and surrender and looking to seek God's glory!

"Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Amen." -Matthew 6:9-13 (NKJV).

Happy Thanksgiving indeed my friends...
To God be all the glory and honor and praise!

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