Have you ever wanted to spend an hour with a mentor who you respected, looked up to and wished you were like in some way? Maybe you’re an artist, a musician, a writer or someone in trades, and you’ve been inspired by others in your field of interest. Whatever it is that you do, either for work or as a hobby, there are others in your field who are better than you, that’s right, better than you. Anybody who wants to get better at who they are or what they do will look for and appreciate those who can teach them a thing or two.
If you know parts of (or much of) the Jesus story you’ve noticed that he is constantly teaching, inspiring, and modelling his life for others to learn and be challenged in the ways of his kingdom. Most of the disciples would follow as close as possible to hear everything Jesus was saying and watch everything he was doing. On one occasion, the disciples turned to Jesus and specifically ask him to teach them something. There was obviously something that was so pressing for them they asked Jesus to teach them a specific or particular thing. Their question, “Teach us how to Pray…”
Pray? You have one pressing question and it’s about prayer? Why not ask how to turn water into wine? There’s some money to be made there. Or how about to turn the switch off on a stormy day? That would be helpful. Instead they ask him to teach them how to pray.
Prayer is one of the those foundational things that you may not see happening, but it holds up the house. Like any foundation in a home, if it’s in place, and done well, it’ll hold up a whole lot of weight.
What was Jesus’ response to the disciple’s question? The Lord’s Prayer. You may have heard it, read it, spoken it, or simply heard of it. It’s a small part of the biblical text found two times in the NT: a full version in Matthew and a shorter version in Luke. It’s brief, simple, to the point, while being profound, powerful, life changing, and spiritually forming. This prayer is a model prayer; one to follow, emulate, in a broad sense or even an exact form. No pressure either way, though you might be hard pressed to find a better prayer to copy word for word!
For the next few weeks we will dive into this prayer. We will walk through it phrase by phrase. All 52 words (depending the translation you use) of it will hopefully have the impact on us that Jesus intended it to have.
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
It’s important to see how Jesus starts this prayer. It’s like entering a house for the first time. It’s obviously more important that you actually enter the house than what entrance you choose, however, the best place to walk into any house for the first time is the front door. If our faith is a home and prayer is our way in, then Our Father is the front door.
Jesus is the one who introduces us to the term Father. Israel were called God’s children, but they didn’t refer to God as Father, at least it’s not recorded that way in the OT. Jesus on the other hand makes this term common, normal, accepted, and welcomed. The word he uses is Abba, Father, (Mark 14) the most intimate of ways to use the word Father. Paul picks up on this and uses the term in places like Romans & Galatians.
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”
We can’t love God as an idea or a force or a dogma, we can only love him in a personal and intimate way, as Father. This is Jesus’ metaphor of choice. He uses the word 15x alone in the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7).
When we start with Father, we start with relationship.
When we start with Father, we start with love, goodness, kindness, etc.
When we start with Father, we start with community.
“The oldest and most implacable enemy in the practice of prayer is depersonalization – turning prayer into a technique, a device.” (E.Peterson)
Jesus says, when you pray, make it personal, start with Father, our Father. Notice he doesn’t say, My Father, as if God is just my or your father, he says ‘Our Father’. We don’t pray to God alone. We may feel alone at times, we may be alone at times, but no matter where you are or where you pray, when you communicate do God, you are part of a community that looks to him as Father.
I’m sure as many read this you might be thinking, ‘but you didn’t have a dad like mine, he wasn’t so great, in fact he was pretty bad.’ The reality is that some of have had horrible experiences with their father or parents; it is unfortunate and unfair, but it happens. For those with good parents, know that God is better, for those with bad or no parents, know that God can be the only Father or Parent who ever loved you the way he does. He is a Holy, powerful, wonderful, capable, strong, loving Father. That’s a great place to start when you begin the journey in discovering God through prayer.
The disciples could’ve asked Jesus to teach them anything. They chose prayer.
Jesus could’ve started anywhere. He started with ‘Our Father’
Will you make prayer personal, relational, real, and honest?
Will you go to God like a loving Father who cares, loves, guides, and helps?
Will you see God as Holy, Big, Strong, not you, but HIM?