“Our Father in heaven”
Jesus’ disciples saw something different in the way that He prayed and in His relationship with God. So as He began to teach on prayer and praying they would have been vitally interested. The prayer that we know as the Lord’s Prayer was the result. It is both an important pattern and teaching on prayer, as well as on Christian living.
The two opening words are very significant. Jesus is giving the prayer to His disciples and not to the general crowds. These were the people who were, or shortly would be, true believers and who would enter into a new relationship with Almighty God – a relationship which entitled them to call God ‘Father” – as Jesus did!
- “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13)
- “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:15-16)
Those who receive Jesus and believe, and consequently receive the presence of the Holy Spirit, are the ones who with full integrity may pray this prayer – using the familiar term Father to address Almighty God. The Bible makes a clear distinction between those who belong to God and those who do not. John is full of wonder as he exclaims,
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” (1 John 3:1)
Believers are not to see themselves merely as individuals, but as members of a new and widespread family with God as the Father of them all – hence the recognition that God is ‘our’ Father and not just ‘my’ Father. He does not belong to me but I belong to him and am in relationship with His other adopted children and His only Son. As Paul tells us,
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.” (Ephesians 3:14-15)
Although God has such a large family there is no danger of us being overlooked or of our prayers being lost or ignored. Each person is loved fully and completely, no one is unobserved and not one of them is insignificant.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)
Cherish the name Father as you think of God. Say it aloud and pause to wonder at the awesome privilege conferred upon you – to be able to call Almighty God ‘Father.”
‘Our Father’, it says so much about You and so much about me as well. Please help me to always cherish and rejoice in our relationship, and may it deepen and grow every day. Amen.