Our Father in Heaven
Read Matthew 6:9-13
“Pray then like this:
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.'”
This month, we’re going to study the Lord’s prayer as many people call it. The label of “Lord’s Prayer” is a little bit of a misnomer. It’s actually a prayer that Jesus taught the disciples to use rather than a prayer Jesus made to God, the father (John 17:1-5). The disciples needed to see a proper example of humility and simplicity in prayer. Prayer is for us to talk with God, align with His will, and to listen to His commands. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Christians’ prayers are measured by weight, and not by length. Many of the most prevailing prayers have been as short as they were strong.”
There is a similar version of the “Lord’s Prayer” in the Gospel of Luke. The words are a little different but the core meaning is the same. Jesus’ focus is on the substance of prayer not on the exact words. Jesus didn’t stress exactness, he stressed passion, honesty, and persistence. The parable of the persistent woman was a crystal example of Jesus’ point.
“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: ‘In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’”
Jesus needed to show them (and us) the correct model for prayer. It’s about the manner in which we pray over the specific details of how we pray.
“Our Father in heaven” addresses our real relationship with God and our status with Him. As the Creator and the provider of life, He is the ultimate parent. Jesus used the word “Abba,” an intimate Aramaic term for father. Jesus’ usage of the status of “father” was radical for Jewish believers because it was considered too intimate for God. Interestingly, Jesus was also teaching this prayer as a community model. He didn’t say “my Father,” he said “our Father.”
Placing God in heaven above the praying person on earth gives God ultimate status. No matter what many agnostics and atheists believe, mankind is not God. Referring to God in heaven helps us remember God’s holiness and glory. Jesus gave God holy and preferential status as our Father, and our Father in heaven. Placing God in heaven also distinguishes earthly fathers from our Creator Father. There are good and bad fathers in this world. My Dad was a good man and did the best he could as a father, but he had several flaws that made him less than he should have been. God as our Father has no flaws, will never break a promise, and will always be there when we need Him.
Jesus taught that God’s name is to be placed in a separate class above all other names. It is distinct and it is His alone.
“…Hallowed be Your name.” In Jesus’ telling of this prayer, he set a priority for God in this model. God’s name, position, and kingdom and will always come first. When we speak of God’s name, we are supposed to mean God himself.
There is a God in our presence and a God in our future. Hallowed was a word used to mean holy, venerated, and sacred but God can only be fully glorified when His kingdom comes. That’s where we’re going to leave off for this week.
- Do you pray the Lord’s Prayer from your mind or your heart? When you say it, do you pray it? Does it have new meaning each time?
- The prayer mentions God’s place in heaven. Jesus was not saying that God is only in heaven. Do you see God as a casual observer watching your life or someone who loves you with perfect love who is actively involved in your life?
- Do you glorify and revere God in your life? Do you use His name in vain? Do you throw His name around loosely and promise things upon God that you don’t deliver?
- Read the Lord’s prayer in Matthew and in Luke. Read it multiple times. Then, when you pray it, pray on one verse at a time. Let it marinate in your heart for a while. Think of how each verse connects with your life.
- How active is God in your life? If He is, great! Encourage others to see how this has changed your life. You might be the only Bible people ever read (from Greg Laurie — Harvest Ministries). If He is not active in your life, what can you do to change that?
- Do you treat God’s name with reverence and perfect respect? Do you sometimes “swear to God” knowing you will probably not keep that promise?Here are some ways you can keep God’s name holy and sanctified:
- Be holy yourself
- Study His name
- Submit to God’s will without complaint
- Allure others to God and His word
- Resist the temptation to use God’s name in any way less than holy. Correct yourself when you do.
Where else in your life can you live out the teachings of Christ? Look for next week’s Devotion.