Conversations with Poppi: Praying to our Father

Solveig: Let’s talk about the Lord’s Prayer.  We haven’t talked about that.

Poppi: Okay.

S: “Our Father …” So we’re talking to God …

P: And calling him what?

S: Father.

P: Where did we get that word for him?

S: I have no clue.

P: You don’t?  Jesus himself taught it to his disciples. Jesus’ disciples came to him one day and said, “The other rabbis teach their disciples a particular way to pray.  You’ve never taught us a particular way to pray.” He said, “When you pray, do it this way.”

S: “Our Father …”

P: And then he taught them this pray.

S: Wait.  Yes, okay. “Our Father …” So he is talking to God.

P: And calling him something.

S: Father.  I don’t know if Father is exactly the right word.  We don’t know if God is a man or a female or whatever. Perhaps he is neither.

P: You think he is neither? You know that word. Father …

S: He could be like a snail.

P: No, he couldn’t. (laughter)

S: I mean like a snail is neither a girl or a boy.

P: There is something special about that word.  The Jews thought of God as Father, meaning that he takes care of his people. He is the Father of the Jews; he takes care of his people. But they never, when praying, called him that. They thought that would be too familiar, too fresh.

S: You’re supposed to be familiar.

P: We think so, but that is because of Jesus.

S: Wait. Could we go back to the subject of the prayer, though?

P: We are on the subject of the prayer. I’m going to make an important point here about that first word.  It’s the special part of the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples.  He said, “God is my Father and I’m his Son, and I’m going to let you piggyback on my prayer. I call God Father, and now you can call God Father too, with me.”

Robert W. Jenson, Conversations with Poppi about God

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