2008 06 - Father’s Day - with a Twist
May the following dialogue give you food for thought, and may it change the way you pray...
John: Well, it’s time for me to do my prayers. I guess I should start. Our Father, who art in heaven... God: Yes?
John: Don’t interrupt me, I’m praying. God: But you called me.
John: Called you? I didn’t call you. I’m praying! Our Father, who art in heaven... God: There, you did it again.
John: Did what? God: Called me. You said, ‟Our Father, who art in heaven,” and here I am. What’s on your mind?
John: But, I didn’t mean anything by it. I was, you know, just saying my prayers for the day. I always say The Lord’s Prayer. It makes me feel good, kind of like getting a duty done. God: All right, go on.
John: Hallowed be Thy Name... God: Hold it! What do you mean by that?
John: By what? God: Hallowed be Thy name.
John: It means... it means... Good grief, I don’t know what it means! How should I know? It’s just part of the prayer... By the way, what does it mean? God: It means honored, holy, wonderful.
John: Hey, that makes sense. I never thought of what hallowed meant before. But I guess I should go on; Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. God: Do you really mean that?
John: Sure, why not? God: What are you doing about it?
John: Doing? Nothing, I guess. I just think that it would be kind of neat if you got control of everything down here like you have up there. God: Have I got control of you?
John: Well, I do go to church... God: That is not what I asked you. What about the bad habits you have? And what about your bad temper? You’ve really got a problem there you know. And then there is the way you spend your money... all on yourself.
John: Stop picking on me! I’m just as good as some of the rest of those phonies down at church.
God: Excuse me. I thought you were saying for My will to be done. If that were to happen, it will have to start with the ones who are praying for it. Like you.
John: Oh, all right. I guess I do have some hang-ups. Now that you mention them, I could probably mention some others. God: So could I.
John: Oh, stop that! Okay, I have not really thought about it very much until now, but I really would like to cut out some of those things. I would like to... you know... be free. God: Good! Now we are getting some where. We will work together, you and I. Some victories can truly be won.
John: Look, Lord. I need to finish up here. This is taking a lot longer than it usually does. Give us this day our daily bread... God: You really need to cut more bread out of your diet. You are getting a little chunky around that middle of yours.
John: Hey, what is this; criticize-me day? Here I was doing my religious duty, and all of a sudden you break in and remind me of all my hang-ups. God: Praying is a dangerous thing. You could wind up changed, you know. That’s what I’m trying to get across to you. You called me, remember? And here I am. It’s too late to stop now. Keep on praying. I’m interested in the next part of your prayer. Go on.
John: I’m scared to. God: Scared of what?
John: I know what you will say. God: Try me and see.
John: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
God: What about Bill?
John: See? I knew it! I knew you would bring him up! Why, Lord? He told lies about me. He cheated me out of some money. He never paid back the money he owes me. I’ve got to get even with him.
God: But your prayer. What about your prayer?
John: I didn’t mean it. God: Well, at least you’re honest. But it is not worth carrying that load of bitterness around inside, is it?
John: No, but I’ll feel better as soon as I get even. Boy, have I got some plans for old Bill. He’ll wish he never messed with me. God: You will not feel any better. You will feel worse. Revenge isn’t sweet. Think of how unhappy you are already. But I can change that.
John: You can? How? God: I can forgive Bill. Then I will forgive you. Then the hate and sin will be Bill’s problem and not yours. You may lose the money, but you’ll have a settled and peaceful heart.
John: But Lord, I can’t forgive Bill! God: Then I cannot forgive you.
John: Hmmm (pause). Oh, I guess you’re right. You always are. And more than I want revenge, I want you. Okay, I forgive him. Help him to find the right road in life, Lord. He’s bound to be awfully miserable now that I think about it. Anybody who goes around doing the things he does to others has to be out of it. Show him the right road, Lord. God: There now, how do you feel?
John: Well, let’s see, hmmm, hey, that’s not too bad, not bad at all. In fact, I feel pretty great. You know, I don’t think I’ll have to go to bed all uptight for the first time in a long time. Maybe I won’t be so tired from now on because I’m not getting enough rest. God: You are not yet through with your prayer. Go on.
John: Oh, all right. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
God: Good! Good! I will do that, just do not put yourself in a place where you can be tempted.
John: What do you mean by that?
God: Quit hanging around the magazine stand where those pornographic magazines are sold. Just because your T.V. has digital cable doesn’t mean you should be watching those adult programs. And what gives with some of those video games you spend so much time playing?
You need to change some of your friendships. Some of your so-called friends are beginning to get to you and they will have you completely involved in the wrong things. Don’t be fooled! They advertise they are having fun, but for you it would be wrong. Don’t use me for an escape hatch.
John: What do you mean by that? I don’t understand. God: Sure you do. You’ve done it a lot of times. You get caught in a bad situation, you get into trouble, and then you come running to me. ‟Lord, help me out of this mess and I promise I’ll never do it again.” Do you remember saying that? Do you remember some of the bargains you tried to make with me?
John: Yes, and I am ashamed Lord, I really am. God: Which bargain are you remembering?
John: Well, when the woman next door saw me backing away from the neighborhood bar. I had told my mother I was going to the store. I remember telling you, ‟Okay, God, don’t let her tell mom, and I’ll be in church every Sunday.” God: She did not tell your mother, but you did not keep your promise.
John: I’m sorry Lord, I really am. Up until now I thought that if I just prayed the Lords’s Prayer everyday, then I could do what I liked. I didn’t expect anything like this to happen.
God: Go ahead and finish your prayer.
John: For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever, Amen.
God: Do you know what would bring me glory, what would make me happy?
John: No, but I’d like to know. I want to please you. I can see what a mess I’ve made of my life and I can see how cool it would be to be one of your followers. God: You just answered the question.
John: I did? God: Yes, the thing that would bring me glory is to have people like you love me. I see that happening between you and me. Now that some of the old sins are exposed and out of the way, well there is no telling what we can do together.
John: Lord, let’s see what we can make out of me, okay?
God: Yes. Let’s see.