Western Friend logo

Close-up on The Lord’s Prayer

Garth Hammond
On Perception (March 2023)
Inward Light

This is my path: a struggle to learn to be willing to surrender to the Holy Spirit, to finally go home. I have been on this path for years, struggling with the idea of an “other,” an incomprehensible energy. Recognizing the necessity of surrendering to something greater than myself – and interior to me – has taken a long time. I have learned that transformation is about choice, action, willingness to surrender, and knowing that I am never alone.

Many of us are unhappy and blur awareness with habits and compulsions. Some habits are obvious, like the need to always be right; some are more subtle, like underlying cultural biases. Frequently, folks seem to struggle against new ideas by rejecting certain language or syntax. Perhaps they are actually saying, “I am unwilling to consider a new possibility unless it already looks correct to my judgment.” However, the Holy Spirit speaks not only in familiar language, and it often speaks without words at all.

Receptivity to spiritual experience can be heightened by many practices. Some examples include: attending meeting for worship, reading spiritual material, and walking in prayer. Any action, if performed with conscious choice, can increase a person’s awareness of spiritual experience.

One spiritual practice that I find helpful is my daily reflection on Matthew 6:10-13, “The Lord’s Prayer.” I begin by quieting myself until the true inner me is holding the field of my attention. Then I meld with, blend with, accept each word of the prayer as a delicious gift. I imagine the taste of each word. I consider what each word means; I step forward. Like placing a key in a lock, I choose to open myself to the possibilities of the Holy Spirit and the possibility of transformation.

I am ignorant of the nature of the Holy Spirit in a definitive way. I only know my own experience. I’m not interested in arguments over whether the Holy Spirit has a gender component. In the past, I found such arguments to be a nifty way to avoid committing. That kind of slow torture, trying to twist the reality of the Holy Spirit into a reflection of myself is a serious mistake for me. Simply surrendering to The Lord’s Prayer works for me. The Holy Spirit is always available.

Here is a common version of The Lord’s Prayer, along with some words of interpretation:

Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.
The mystery and experience of the Holy Spirit are not controllable or reducible, not about fear. It’s not about an up/down relationship, not little-me/great-thou. I am part. I am brought in. I belong.

Thy Kingdom come.
The future is unknown. Only by surrender to the healing love of the Holy Spirit will I thrive in whatever circumstance occurs. Faith.

Thy Will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.
My intention and the path that opens often bring the scary work of surrender. What will bring me into harmony with the Spirit? I really do have to extend the invitation. Become willing.

Give us this day our daily bread.
Feed me, help sustain my faith, teach me. Walk with me in the calm garden. Vulnerable and grateful.

Forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Help me to see and forgive my mistakes, so that I may learn humility and compassion for others. Help me to refuse labels and labeling. Surrender.

And lead us not into temptation.
Judgment, pride, manipulation, gossip, false kindness, false agreement, telling other people how they should live. All the sins (errors) that come from fear and loneliness. Errors of fear.

But deliver us from Evil.
Human evil, the surrender to anger and righteous judgment. The sweet lie of being right. Then we defend the temptation, leading to separation, condescension, and ultimately bitterness. Living a lie, hiding from ourselves.

For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power
and the Glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Gratitude for beginnings, endings, laughter, joy, and sorrow. Help me to love and respect myself and others as I turn my will and life over to you. Thank you. Trust.

Garth Hammond attends Olympia Friends Meeting in Olympia, Washington (NPYM).


The Lord's Prayer Spiritual Development

Return to "On Perception" issue