"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name..."
From start to finish, this model prayer contains many thoughts to stir worship and praise to our Father in heaven. This will be the first of a series of short devotionals on these inspired, prayerful words uttered by the King of Kings. As we get our heart and thoughts into the word of God, may the word of God get into our thoughts and hearts.
The Text: Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:2-4
Read these in their context and note the circumstances surrounding Christ's delivery. Matthew's account is right in the middle of a public discourse. Luke's is from a seemingly private quiet time Jesus was having - consistently - and it created a desire in the disciples to request a lesson on prayer. Have you ever reflected on these passages and asked God humbly, "Lord, teach me to pray?"
Any quiet time has to be "YOUR" quiet time. The thoughts below are simply a framework for people to dig in on their own into God's word to address their own needs and deepen their walk with God. Give the word "DWELL TIME." Don't rush at the risk of acting spiritual without getting spiritual. Don't look spiritual. Be spiritual. Reflection takes time. Meditating on the word and meditating on your heart and meditating on your actions and praying about each will require quality effort and quantity time. Profound changes rarely happen in the fast lane.
Why Address Worship in this Prayer?
The reason for looking at worship in these words of Christ is simple; this is a topical quiet time on worship from Christ's lesson and not an exposition of the Lord's Prayer. Like all of us, I have been wrestling in my life since my baptism to glorify God more and more all the time. Worship helps me center on God's worthiness and not my unworthiness. I am so selfish and prideful in my flesh that I need to constantly feed truth to my mind and heart about God's glory and holiness. It helps keep me on the narrow path as life goes on. We are here to glorify God. The most ancient texts in the Bible bring people back to this truth as well:
"called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made." Isaiah 43:7
"The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. May the name of the Lord be praised" Job 1:21
"The fear of the Lord (reverent worship) is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding" Proverbs 9:10
As I have clung to Jesus over my blessed tenure in his kingdom, I have seen and learned over the years that there is a lot more "worship" in the Bible than I ever imagined as a younger Christian. Only Christ makes our worship acceptable to God. Anything less than 100% cooperation for me is ungrateful rebellion - no matter how "trivial" in my own heart.
Connecting to God and praising him with your life and character is the beginning of wisdom. Constant application is the continuation of wisdom. This spiritual sustainability is also worship Hebrews 5:14, John 13:17, Romans 11:35-12:2
Part 1: "Our Father"
As the disciples requested, Jesus shared a simple, sample prayer for them to learn from. Christ begins with an uncomplicated address to focus people's hearts on God. He used the Greek word "pater" translated "father." In the gospels alone, it used over 200 times. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus actually introduces the word Father right before this passage. Additionally, Jesus used the possessive plural pronoun "our" to describe how we should start our prayers. This not only implies the practice of group prayer, but also shows the universal perspective for all mankind that God has. The Lord God is the ancestral patriarch of all mankind, "the Ancient of Days." Just as the Jews and the Samaritans recognized their ancestral patriarch in the scriptural references noted below, Jesus is pointing people directly to their true forefather. He desires to redeem all people from darkness and bring them into his family through Christ. Notice the honor given to human "our fathers"...
Mark 11:10 - "“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
John 4:12 - "Are you greater than our father Jacob?"
John 8:53 - "Are you greater than our father Abraham?"
Of course, the answer is yes! However, even Christ points us beyond himself to the one worthy of the greatest honor!
QUESTION FOR REFLECTION: I had to ask myself, when I say "Father God" as my lips begin to pray, do I really understand what Jesus understood when he taught that phrase as an opening address?
The fact is, the more we understand the truth that our prayers are addressing "our Father," God, the more worship we will harbor in our hearts and minds as we pray. Worship should swell from our hearts to our Father God!
ADDITIONAL VERSES FOR DEEPER REFLECTION: Deuteronomy 1:30-31, Deuteronomy 8:5, Deuteronomy 32:6, Malachi 1:6, John 4:23, Matthew 23:9, Exodus 4:22, Isaiah 63:16, Isaiah 64:8, Matthew 5:48
DEEPER QUESTIONS FOR PERSONAL NEEDS: Is my heart in need of transformation from these truths? Do I believe that our Father in heaven loves ME even though I may not understand it? Am I adequately sensitive to any compromise or personal neglect that dishonors my Father? In my heart of hearts, do I believe that I am a child of God? Is there any arrogance in me that sees others as inferior, whether in or out of the church?
PRACTICAL PRAYER: Read and Pray Psalm 130 and Psalm 131 Ask God to help you be a holy child of his.
Coming up - Part 2: More on "Our Father"
Jerry Maday, Worcester County Church of Christ