The previous article had a very moving prayer of repentance and surrender. The prayer is addressed to our heavenly Father. However, if we are to experience the full power of such a prayer, or any prayer to God the Father, we need to have the correct image of Him and his great love for us. If we don’t realize we are beloved sons of our loving Father in heaven, how can we have a relationship with him? How can we pray with confidence to him, trusting in his love and mercy? The article below comes from the July 14 meditation in this month’s issue of The Word Among Us magazine. As you read the article, ask the Lord to heal you of any false images you may have had or still have of God the Father.
I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. (Jeremiah 31:3)
Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. (John 5:19)
Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me.” (John 12:45)
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. (John 14:9)
See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. (1 John 3:1)
No one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him. (Matthew 11:27)
When we were children, many of us imagined God as a stern judge, sitting at his desk wearing pinch-nose glasses and watching our every move. Every time we did something wrong, he would open the Book of Life to the page with our name on it and make a check mark in the naughty column. We knew that one day we would have to stand before the Judge and explain all those check marks.
So has your concept of God matured? Or are you stuck in a grade-school rut? Do you still see God the Father as a distant, unapproachable Creator? As a heavenly policeman just waiting for you to break his laws? As a perfectionist who condemns you for every minor misdoing?
One way many of us deal with these misconceptions is by putting aside any thoughts of God the Father and focusing our attention on Jesus instead. After all, he’s much easier to relate to because he became a man. He showed himself to be a kind, caring person who gave his all for us. We feel we can open our hearts to him and not be afraid of his judgments, even if we are not perfect. But still, somewhere in the back of our minds is this image of the Father—an image that is just plain contrary to the way Jesus revealed God to be.
Remember: Jesus came to earth so that he could reconcile us with the Father. It was God himself—our compassionate, patient, merciful Father—who sent Jesus to us in the first place. Everything Jesus ever said or did was meant to reveal the Father-heart of God so that we would not fear him but run to him. It’s amazing, and sometimes hard to grasp, but it is still true: God the Father wants to have a relationship with us. And the best part is that we don’t have to go looking for him. He has already chosen us and reached out to us. All we have to do is open our hearts to receive him.
“Father, show yourself to me even more today. Help me to know you and to love you so that I can feel your presence in my life more deeply.”
(Maurice Blumberg was the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), and is currently a Trustee. He is also the Director of Partner Relations for Partners in Evangelism, (http://www2.wau.org/partners/), a Ministry to the Military and Prisoners for The Word Among Us. Maurice can be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Many thanks to The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/) for allowing me to use this daily meditation from the July issue of their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. Take a few minutes to read and reflect on the Scriptures at the beginning of the article. What do they reveal to you about God the Father and your relationship with him?
2. In the first paragraph above, the following questions are posed: “If we don’t realize we are beloved sons of our loving Father in heaven, how can we have a relationship with him? How can we pray with confidence to him, trusting in his love and mercy?” How would you answer these questions?
3. What are the images you have of God the Father? The article gives these negative examples: “Do you still see God the Father as a distant, unapproachable Creator? As a heavenly policeman just waiting for you to break his laws? As a perfectionist who condemns you for every minor misdoing?” How are your images affected by your relationship with your earthly father?
4. What impact do your images of God the Father have on your relationship with him and your prayers to him?
5. Read and reflect on the last paragraph of the article – especially these final words? “God the Father wants to have a relationship with us. And the best part is that we don’t have to go looking for him. He has already chosen us and reached out to us. All we have to do is open our hearts to receive him.” Do you believe this? Why or why not?
6. If you are in a men’s group, end your meeting by praying for one another that each of you would deepen your relationship with God the Father and deepen your knowledge and experience of his great love for you. Use the prayer at the end of the article as the starting point.