Part two of a series of studies on the Lord’s Prayer
So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven…”
Luke 11:2 (NKJV)
Throughout the gospel accounts, Christ referred to his Father: he frequently prayed to his Father, and in all cases he acknowledged his Father as his source of power and strength. In Luke 10:21 he begins a prayer, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth…”
There are over 50 occasions when Christ refers to God as ‘Father’. He spoke of ‘my Father’ in Luke 2:49 when he told his worried parents, “I must be about My Father’s business …” When speaking to the disciples he described God to them as ‘your Father’ (Luke 6:36).
At the beginning of this lesson on prayer in Luke 11, Jesus invites us into – to be part of – this relationship. Instead of ‘My Father’, he uses the phrase, ‘Our Father’. He includes the disciples in that close and loving relationship, and if we are praying as he taught us, then he includes each one of us as well. We do not need to look on from the side-lines at this relationship – we can be part of it through prayer. Prayer is the route through which we discover its depth.
The Jews in Christ’s time described Abraham as their father and, through that heritage, they saw themselves as free. An argument began with Christ telling them, “… I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me.” (John 8:16). Christ reminds them that this inheritance they claim, when they say ‘Abraham is our father’, means nothing if they are not prepared to ‘do the works of Abraham’. To be seen as children they need to be walking in the steps of the father – and Abraham walked with God. (Genesis 24:40).
When we use the word ‘Father’ we are confessing that we never need to find ourselves alone in this world, with all of its problems. When we begin our prayers to God with ‘Our Father’, it is more than the formal opening salutation of an email or letter: we are being included in that close, father-son relationship. We are praying to someone who provides for our needs; who never leaves us or forsakes us; who lovingly watches us growing up; who has already suffered on our account, so that our lives may be full of hope.
We can look beyond the endless genealogies that history provides, beyond the kings and the judges and the patriarchs of the Old Testament, to the Creator of them all, and acknowledge him as ‘Father’.
Thank you, great God, that we can come before you and call you ‘Father’, knowing that you love us as your children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Study by Maggie Mitchell
About the writer:
Maggie Mitchell attends the Northampton congregation of Grace Communion International and is Chair of the Pastoral Council
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