Our Father which art in heaven
What does true prayer look like? Luke chapter 11 gives us the ultimate picture:
“It came to pass, that… Jesus was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1-2)
And from there, Jesus teaches them the Lord’s Prayer. This is where the Lord’s Prayer comes from. It begins with Jesus’ own prayer life.
Jesus is the Ultimate Pray-er. From before the world began Jesus has been communing with the Father in the power of the Spirit. Between Jesus and the Father there has always been a word-full, joy-full heart to heart. And now Jesus has come into the world. He has come into our human life. And He carries on the conversation. He’s still talking to God, but He’s talking to God as one of us. Jesus has earthed the Prayer Life of God into our Human Existence.
So there He is praying on the mountaintop – God the Son who has become God our Brother. And He’s praying “My Father, My Father, My Father”. In fact it’s more intimate than that. We know from Mark chapter 14, verse 36 that He calls God, “Abba, Father.” There is incredible intimacy here. Abba is a word for Father in many languages from the middle east. It’s one of the first words a baby will say. And it will continue to be the way a child addresses their father throughout life. There is beautiful intimacy and respect here: “Abba, Father”
The disciples see it from a distance and they want in on it. “Lord teach us to pray.”
And, wonder of wonders, Jesus replies
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father… (Matthew 6:9)
Glory! We get to call God Most High, what Jesus does.
Not because I’m good. I’m wicked. Not because I’m religious. I’m not. Not because I’m a prayer-warrior. I’m anything but.
How do I get to call God Father? God the Son became my Brother, He took me to Himself and brought me home. Now I am in on the eternal prayer-life of God.
And this revolutionizes our prayers.
So often we feel we have to yell our prayers up to a silent heaven. Jesus says, “Come on in. Come in to the heart of heaven. Come in my name. In Me you are as close to God as I am. You don’t have to yell up to heaven. You can whisper in His ear and call Him Abba.”
Jesus has warned us in verses 5-8 about hypocritical pray-ers. They pray to be seen by men. Jesus says pray to be heard by your Father.
If that privilege doesn’t do something to our hearts, we’re going to pray like hypocrites rather than children. Perhaps we need to quote Matthew 18 verse 3 to ourselves until true prayer is birthed in us:
Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
We are not world-weary soldiers calling on a heavenly Sergeant Major. We are not over-worked employees calling on our divine Line Manager. We are children, adopted in the Son, calling on our Abba, Father.
And once I remind myself of that, I remind myself of where He is:
Our Father which art in heaven.
The bible speaks of three heavens. The first heaven is where the birds fly. The second heaven is where Star Trek happens. And the third heaven is paradise, where the Most High God is enthroned over the universe.
And Jesus says “Your Dad, sits on that throne.”
It’s nice to have friends in high places isn’t it? Our Father rules the cosmos! Or put it another way – the One who rules the cosmos is our Father.
Without a heart-felt knowledge of these truths, all our praying can only ever be “vain repetitions” or “much speaking”(v7). Therefore Jesus urges us, before we pray anything else, to remember Who we’re praying to, and where we’ve come. In all our sinfulness and weakness we have come in Jesus’ name to the throne room of heaven. Here we are as little children in the Son. And in Him we have the ear of a loving Father who rules this world and this week. Now pray…