In my first installment on the Lord’s prayer I proposed that this prayer of our Lord is a prayer for a people and not bare individuals. That while Jesus is showing individuals how to pray those individuals are never alone… Now let’s turn our attention to the Father who hears our prayers.
I. He is no distant God. Now remember this is Jesus pointing us to communicate with His Father in the same manner He does. But, some may wonder at this… Jesus is wholly different than us, they might say. He is a Son in a manner that I will never be. True enough, but what a glorious thing to not be a natural child of the King, to not share in His essence, yet to be plucked out while still in our sin and to be called His child.
In the past we have had families with adopted children in our church and we have members now with adopted children. It is a marvelous thing to realize that when it comes to affection, love, possession, position, title, birthdays, beach parties, bed time prayers, tickle-fests, or kisses on the cheek there is no difference between a daughter born into the family and one brought in by way of adoption. We may not be His children in the same way Jesus is but after our adoption we are in every way a son or daughter of the King. That is why Paul could call us to look upon God with great affection in
Gal 4:6-7 6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba , Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
You may have heard that that word Abba is used by little children for daddy but that is not entirely true. While it is used by children it is also used by adults and it is really a term of endearment or affection. Jesus used this same term in the Garden of Gethsemane:
Mark 14:35-36 35 He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 36 And He said, “Abba , Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”
In this prayer, Jesus is calling us to relate to His Father the way He relates to Him. To dearly love Him. There are a few things to remember while you are addressing Him as Father.
a. First of all, He is our Savior. When God told Moses to go to Pharaoh and petition for the release of the people Israel he put it this way:
Ex 4:21-23 21 And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD:”Israel is My son, My firstborn. 23 So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn.”‘”
His first and primary purpose in having children is to lead them in an exodus. As in Egypt it is an exodus from slavery but now Your Father is leading you out of the slavery of sin.
Rom 6:20-23 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I do not know of a prayer sweeter than the first pray offered up to God calling Him Father for the first time. To come to Him as Father is bondage breaking. The sin that enslaved you, told you that you were abandoned, orphaned and alone. Sin that drove you to despair of ever finding love let alone a Father to love you. That prison is broken at the first word from the Father to keeper of the prison. “That is my son, She is my daughter, let her go that she may serve Me.” To have Him as Father is to have him as Savior.
b. Secondly, As Father we are coming to Him to supply our needs and He is ready to provide for us. Jesus expands on this later in the sermon on the mount
Matt 7:7-12″Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone ? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
When we offer up prayers of faith our Father is ready to provide for us bread, the things we need to sustain us, or pardon for sin, or protection from evil. Notice that Jesus juxtaposes our Adamic nature, that which is evil, with the Heavenliness of the Father. While it is possible for our human fathers to fail because of their nature our Heavenly Father has no such defect. He is Heavenly.
c. And this is the last thing I want you to remember as you pray this prayer with your brothers and sisters. Though He is your Father and full of affection for you He remains in enthroned in heaven. We come to Him with reverence remembering He is not to be approached with a temper tantrum, throwing fits and demanding our way. He is enthroned in majesty and surrounded by a host of innumerable angels. In heaven there is not a casual word or thought. Every moment is taken up with the majesty and splendor of your Father. This is a faith builder in His disciples, here is how:
You can approach Him with confidence. Not only does He love you care for you as father does a child. He is also able to accomplish great things on your behalf. There is nothing too difficult for Him at all. That is why Jesus could say that if you have faith as a mustard seed you could tell this mountain to move from here to there and it would move. Your Father is in Heaven not bound by the Nature He created, though He uses what He has created to accomplish His will. Do not doubt if Your prayers find origin in His promises, if Christ is harbored in Your heart, believe for He is able to accomplish all His holy will.
Pray knowing that Jesus Christ is in Heaven as well. Remember Stephen, the martyred deacon of the first century church? At his death casts his glance upward
Acts 7:56″Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
Beloved, the heavens are open to you and the Son of Man is at God?s right hand and your prayers are translated into a heavenly language fit for the ears of the God of Heaven. Doubt not that he hears you and will answer the prayer of faith.
II. Application: Where does this prayer touch us? How shall live if this is true?
a. First, We are to be a praying people. We are to be praying in the worship service to be sure and those who lead the prayers ought to approach their duty with faith. But this is a model for our private prayer as well. The Apostle called us to pray without ceasing. There is never a season of prayerlessness with the saints of God.
Take this model and impress into your mind so that it is second nature and no matter where you are or what you are doing you can take a clause or a phrase of this prayer and use it as a spring board for casting yourself before the Father.
In your regular prayer time perhaps you can make this prayer your model. Using each phrase or idea to prod your mind into deeper fellowship with your Father.
b. Second, to call Him Father is one of the first marks of true Christian faith. When you are a child you know your father at one level and as you grow in maturity your understanding of just who your father is grows into a fullness that is incomprehensible to the immature. N. T. Wright said that if you can hold these two things, the Fatherhood and Heavenliness of God, together you are on your way to understanding what Christianity is all about. The beginning of the Lord?s prayer is really its end. To know Him as Father, really know Him, that is the goal of every Christian.
c. Third, and finally, your might feel that the weight of your sin drags on your prayers so that they do not make it past the vaulted ceiling. Let me say that God sees your heart. Do you pray in faith? Then even though sin clings to your prayers it is cast aside in the presence of Your Holy Father so that all that is left is the prayer of faith. And that is a prayer the Father answers.