Our Father who art in heaven . . . 

The Grand Canyon is an outstanding example of stratified — or layered — rock.   By studying its colorful layers, geologists have learned much about the canyon and its history.   Each layer contains a wealth of information, including a few surprises.   For example, did you know that the canyon was once covered by shallow seas, once lush with vegetation, and even once flowing with lava?

Here’s another surprise.   The canyon can actually be a good image for thinking about the Lord’s Prayer.   Think about this:   As we pray through the Our Father, we are exploring “layers” of revelation about who God is and how he wants us to relate to him.   Each turn of phrase, each verse, can tell us something valuable — and there are a few surprises along the way too.

For instance, the very first discovery we make is that God is our Father.   We are his children, near to his heart.   While this may not be news for us, to those who were hearing Jesus teach about prayer, “Our Father” was probably an unusual beginning.   The Hebrew Scriptures did not often describe God as father.   They held him in such awe, in fact, that they rarely spoke his name.

As we pray, “Your kingdom come,” we learn that God is a king.   What’s more, we recognize that he is inviting us to work alongside him in building his kingdom.   So rather than being an absolute monarch, he welcomes collaborators.

We also find that God is a generous provider.   He gives us “our daily bread,” the Eucharist, and every other good thing in our lives.   When we confess our sins, he lavishes mercy upon us.   And he gives us the strength to withstand trials and temptations.

So take a few moments right now to explore the Our Father, layer by layer.   Pray through it slowly.   Take your time, and pause if a word or phrase catches your attention.   It may help to repeat that phrase a few times.   Let the words sink into your heart.   And take note if you sense peace or joy swelling within you.   Just as water flows through the canyon, the Holy Spirit flows into you when you pray this prayer!

Word Among Us