This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, (Matthew 6:9)
Our Lord Jesus taught us to pray and gave us specific instructions how to pray. Yet I find, with regard to the Lord’s prayer, that the church today tends to go to one extreme or the other. On the one hand, many just pray the words with mindless repetition. On the other, many act as if our Lord gave us no instruction about how we should pray and just pray out of the thoughts of their head, and those all too infrequently don’t reflect a mind that has been trained by God’s word. So let’s take a moment to begin thinking about how Jesus taught us to pray.
“Our Father, the One in the heavens…”
The first word in this prayer, at least the way the sentence is constructed in Greek, is Father (Pater) and it immediately takes us outside ourselves, outside this earthly realm, to the One Who made us. This is the Father from whom the whole family is named whether in heaven or on earth (Ephesians 3:14-15). We relate to Him as children. We come submitting to Him. We come dependent.
The second word in this prayer (hēmōn) is “our” (of ours). This word also takes us outside of self and locates us in the community of Christ. It shows that we come to the Father as a part of His family. The other name for that community is the church. Given the nature of the Lord’s prayer, it is clear that the church community intended is primarily the local community of gathered disciples. For example, those are the ones we will at times need to forgive their debts, and the ones that need daily bread which we know about. We come to the Father in prayer bringing not merely our own needs, but the needs and requests of a community.
One nineteenth century Russian theologian said, ““The blood of the church is prayer for each other.”i I believe he meant that one of the ways we take up our cross and follow Jesus is by bearing one another to the Father in prayer. As we are going through our Sunday morning series, The Cross as a Pattern for Living, let’s stoke the embers of prayer one for another, and prayer one with another. Let’s begin to pray, “Our Father…”.
To be Continued.
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,