Monday, October 7, 2013

The Lord's Prayer: Our Father

In our Sunday evening gatherings, we have been looking at what is commonly called the Lord's Prayer. It is the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray. The text is found in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4. Growing up, it was rare for me to hear this prayer in church. It was seen as something those ritualistic churches did in a rote manner and came close to a "vain repetition." I believe I missed out on something that is a good thing for us to do in our personal and corporate prayers.

Jesus begins the prayer with, "Our Father in heaven."  We are told many times in Scripture that God is our Father. We are born into God's family and we are adopted into the privileges of a son. More than that, we are told that we can call the Creator of the universe, "Abba" or "Papa." We have an intimate relationship with God. Unfortunately, many do not have good memories of their fathers. Some were abusive, or harsh. Others were absent. Some have a hard time with the concept of God as Father. I have heard that the best way is to think of the absolute best father one can imagine and realize that God is infinitely better than that. He is the perfect Father who never abuses, who is always there, and who loves his children with an inexhaustible love.

Luke goes on in his gospel to describe our Father as one who always gives us good things. When my children were growing up, I desired to give them good things and they knew that if they asked for something, I would give it to them if I was able. I didn't give them everything they asked for, because I knew some things were not good for them to have. If they asked for food, I certainly wouldn't have given them dirt or rocks. In the same way, our Father gives us good things. Does he give us everything we ask for? No. If we ask for something that is not going to be good for us, or something that is going to cause harm to others, God usually denies those requests. Just as I knew better than my small children what was good for them (at least part of the time), our Father knows far better than we what is good for us and for his kingdom. Because he loves us, we can and should trust him to give us exactly what we need.

God is our Father in heaven. In the midst of asking and receiving from him, we also remember that he is God, and we are not. He has made us his children and given us his Spirit to guide us, but God is the  final authority on how we live and on what he grants us. God is not a cosmic candy store where we can just put in our order and expect results. We often don't know what is best, but God does. We don't know how things are going to turn out many times, so we can become fearful and feel that the Father really doesn't have a good heart toward us. If we remember that God is a loving, gracious, Father in heaven, and that he knows the end from the beginning, we can trust him no matter what and be grateful for each and everything he gives us, even when it seems as if he is giving us things that are not good.

Trust your Heavenly Father. His heart is good to his children and we can trust him absolutely.

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