So we're setting into lockdown here in Sydney, and I was praying for us as a church. And I sensed God wanted to get us focused on the Lord's prayer (Jesus most clear teaching on how to pray), and mine it, slowly and patiently, for fresh insights and encouragement at this time.
So that's what we're going to do together. Here's the full prayer, out of Matthews gospel:
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“ ‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’"
Context tells us that Jesus was teaching His disciples on a range of different topics, helping them understand how to practice various things as His disciples, and as people of His Kingdom.
We are His disciples, and we are here to build His Kingdom. So His framing of prayer here is very instructive for us. And He starts His model with a very personal opening.
Those First Few Words
"Our Father." Not my Father. Nor our God or Higher Being. Our shared Heavenly Father. Jesus is modelling prayer for us, and it is personal from the outset. We are able to address the Creator and Lord of the Universe as our own Father. John explains how this is possible in the Gospel bearing his name:
"Yet to all who did receive him [Jesus], 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 explains that those who believe in Jesus, in all He is and has done, become, supernaturally, the children of God. John of course got this idea from Jesus Himself.
And Jesus, in His teaching on prayer, assumes that we can come to God as our Father through Him. And so Jesus teaches you and me that the God that we pray to wants us to know Him personally, as our Father. This implies so much that relates to the idea of Fatherhood: protection, love, care, provision, leadership, wisdom, support, and above all, presence.
Prayer takeaway #1 - When you come to God in prayer, you are coming to God who wants you to know Him personally as your Father. As your protector, provider, leader, wise counsellor, supporter, and above all else, loving personal presence in your life. And He is all of these things in reality, not just in theory. And many more besides.
But He's not just my or your Father. He is our Father.
Our relationship with God is not just personal, and it is certainly not private. It is shared with everyone else who, as John explains above, believes in Jesus. God is our Father.
Particularly in this times where we are locked down, this particular aspect of who we are as God's children is being tested the most. And so I encourage you, don't let our trust in God as Father get lost. Get together with others in our Church and pray together. Pray for each other. Pray for our city and nation. Pray for our world. Pray for God's Kingdom to come, and will to be done - part of the Lords' prayer coming up soon.
Prayer takeaway #2 - Make opportunities to pray together with other followers of Jesus. In our church, and beyond. Get together, and pray together, to our Heavenly Father. And find together His protection, provision, leadership, wisdom, support, and loving personal presence.
You know what is most powerful about prayer. Prayer is not locked down.
We can pray anywhere, anytime.
Looking forward to praying with you!
Written by Ps Rob.