Essays, poems and Stories of an African-American

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Prayer Series 2: Our Father, a discussion on the meaning of this prayer by Thomas Rogers Muyunga Mukasa

THE LORD'S PRAYER


Our Father....
This is a prayer that Jesus Christ taught us. In doing so, He was opening up our eyes and pointing us towards what deeds we needed to do in order to feel fulfilled. It would enable divest from us any semblance of selfishness, hypocrisy and ill-will.
 
Our Father; we are called to say out His (His-Her) name, call on Him (Him-Her) and be the children, daughter and son. We seek our Father ( Father-Mother) by clearly addressing Him (Him-Her) to get His (His-Her) attention. This Father is also a Mother. What we are in essence acknowledging is a Father-Mother figure! A source!
 
Who art in Heaven; we are encouraged to acknowledge that He (He-She) resides in an abode that is magnificent and that there is our home too.
 
Hallowed be thy name; this is a humble step that puts us in a position in which we are bowed and kneeling.
 
Your Kingdom come; this is a belief statement and part plea bargain.
 
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven; our Father’s (Father's-Mother's) will is for us to be subjects who partake of His (His-Her) Kingdom. We are co-creators and co-workers in ensuring that all understand and contribute in this Kingdom and kind-dome! Like in Biology, we have two forms of Kingdoms: Plant and animal Kingdoms. In the spiritual cosmos, we are kind-domes!
 
Forgive us our trespasses; Forgiven first by our Father (Father-Mother) gets us in His (His-Her) presence.
 
As we forgive those who trespass against us; we should also not hold grudges.
 
Lead us not into temptation; be our guide to you.
 
And deliver us from all evil; not only are you our guide but our sole protector too.
 
I am always humbled by the love of Christ. Christ gave us every morsel and grand gift He could from heaven. He knew the entire goings on and was faultless. He devised all the plans for our salvation after our fall. He left us a letter that we should read, lead others to read and empower many still in deed to put its words into action. This letter was a deed to fulfill our needs.

Prayer Series 1, a discussion on meaning of prayer by Thomas Rogers Muyunga Mukasa

Prayer:

- is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship through deliberate communication.

- is to directly appeal to God to grant one's requests. This in many ways is the simplest form of prayer. Some have termed this the social approach to prayer.

- is meant to inculcate certain attitudes in the one who prays.

- is to help train a person to focus on divinity through philosophy and intellectual contemplation.

-  is to enable the person praying to gain a direct experience of the recipient of the prayer (or as close to direct as a specific theology permits.

-is an experience of consciously being attentive, and having a silent love toward God, which the individual experiences without demanding to receive an experience.

- enables an existential transformation in the person praying. The act of praying elicits a new kind of understanding which wasn't apparent before praying. The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard wrote that "the function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays."

- is often used as a means o f faith healing in an attempt to use religion or spiritual means to prevent illness, cure disease, or improve health.

- is often done by speaking in a foreign tongue, a practice now known as glossolalia.

NB. For more on prayer one can read different books from various religions or first familiarize self with what the following link has: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prayer 

I shall use this space to write about prayer. Prayer is a means of reminding: God, self and others. Prayer has benefits and these are as multitudinous as those praying. I shall write about some here. Let us see the first ten benefits of prayer and personality. The Psalms written by King David will be referred to a lot in most of these series.

1. Prayer improves on how one reflects on self.
2. Prayer improves on how one reflects on others.
3. Prayer improves on how one reflects on the surrounding environment.
4. Prayer improves on one's usefulness and worth to self.
5. Prayer improves on one's usefulness and worth to others.
6. Prayer improves on humility and courtesy.
7. Prayer improves on social interaction.
8. Prayer improves on how one applies themselves.
9. Prayer improves on the ability to weigh consequences.
10. Prayer is accountability.


A friend of mine took me through events that in turn caused three different aspects in which I sought to understand what praying is. The three aspects being: The beginnings of knowing God; an intimate distance with God and living in the times of fulfillment.

We visited places in United States that pulled at my spiritual persona. We visited the National Shrine in Washington DC, the Bernal Heights open air prayer venue and a museum where Albrecht durer's "Praying Hands" was part of the artifacts on display.

 I am someone who has contemplated what was going on in King David's mind as he thought about Jehovah, Yahweh or the Divine being whose name is never pronounced. It must have been so hard for him. At one time he (David) needed a solitary moment to meditate on life. May be he found time deep in the night. May be something pulled at his heart, woke him out of sleep and gave him energy to compose a prayer or two.

The stimuli must have been overwhelming. The duties as a sheep owner, a healer, a sought after musician and a very dashing royal person. He was a virile boy growing up in those lands known as Palestine then.  He was the sheep keeper. He must have trained the sheep so well, that they never strayed. Or when they did, he was able to get them back. He must have known the pasture lands like he knew his musical instruments. He must have known how to take full care of all his animals. He knew which herbs to use. He must have sold good sheep products. He must have sung so well, that he was sought after. He must have arranged the words to his music and poems so well that it was magical and mesmerizing. Just imagine the play of words! We are told that Psalm 25 is an acrostic poem, the verses of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

Entire villages must have congregated to recite the poem-prayers. It could be there were seasonal festivities in which he made an appearance. Imagine a Rosh Hashannah with encouragement for teshuvah or the Yamin Noraim or the Aseret Yamei T’shuvah up to Yom Kippur (acknowledgement, self-awareness, repentance and atonement) with David taking leading roles! In order to keep the people focused there had to be reciters of long passages both new and old. The new aligned with Tradition no doubt. Who else to call upon but that dashing sheep keeper!

May be there were those who had mischief too. Those with capacity to raid David's camps and cause mayhem! May be he sustained injuries or torture because he was famous. Perhaps, David had people who used his "copyright material" and claimed the fame! May be there were those who made up words and made the poems raunchy and obscene! David must have been hurt when he got wind of this, but he never gave up! If one reads the Psalms up to 25, one may not fail to see an emerging pattern on how King David must have felt. From a prophetic call, somewhat distance to a celebratory, somewhat intimate one. For instance Psalm 1 reads:

1  Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,
        
nor standeth in the way of sinners,
nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2  But his delight is in the law of the LORD;
        
and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3  And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, Jer. 17.8
        
that bringeth forth his fruit in his season;
his leaf also shall not wither;
and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
4  The ungodly are not so:
        
but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
5  Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
        
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6  For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous:
        
but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Psalm 25 reads:

In you, Lord my God,
    I put my trust.

I trust in you;
    do not let me be put to shame,
    nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you
    will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
    who are treacherous without cause.

Show me your ways, Lord,
    teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love,
    for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth
    and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
    for you, Lord, are good.

Good and upright is the Lord;
    therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right
    and teaches them his way.
10 All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
    toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.
11 For the sake of your name, Lord,
    forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

12 Who, then, are those who fear the Lord?
    He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.[b]
13 They will spend their days in prosperity,
    and their descendants will inherit the land.
14 The Lord confides in those who fear him;
    he makes his covenant known to them.
15 My eyes are ever on the Lord,
    for only he will release my feet from the snare.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart
    and free me from my anguish.
18 Look on my affliction and my distress
    and take away all my sins.
19 See how numerous are my enemies
    and how fiercely they hate me!

20 Guard my life and rescue me;
    do not let me be put to shame,
    for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness protect me,
    because my hope, Lord,[c] is in you.

22 Deliver Israel, O God,
    from all their troubles!


We see, hear or feel instances that are characteristics of prayer.  Like I said earlier, prayer is a means of reminding: God, self and others. Prayer has so many benefits and the first ten benefits of prayer and personality are:


1. Prayer improves on how one reflects on self.
2. Prayer improves on how one reflects on others.
3. Prayer improves on how one reflects on the surrounding environment.
4. Prayer improves on one's usefulness and worth to self.
5. Prayer improves on one's usefulness and worth to others.
6. Prayer improves on humility and courtesy.
7. Prayer improves on social interaction.
8. Prayer improves on how one applies themselves.
9. Prayer improves on the ability to weigh consequences.
10. Prayer is accountability.




As a student of prayer I have had an opportunity to meet with groups dedicating time to pray. I have visited Bernal Heights on many to capture moments of prayer.



One moment of prayer on Bernal Heights I happened to witness.


Praying Hands by Albrecht Durer

The National Shrine in Washington DC. I spent enjoyable and at the same uplifting retreats here. I learnt balance of prayer and works of miracles in our lives here.