It’s About Family
When one of his disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples,” Jesus told them to “pray in this manner,” and proceeded to share with them what is commonly known as “The Lord’s Prayer.” It is one of the best known and most beloved passages of scripture.
We can pray this prayer word for word, knowing that it covers everything that could possibly touch our lives in a single day. We can also use it as a template, following its outline, and filling in specific daily requests.
The words of The Lord’s Prayer are succinct and saturated. It is extremely short, only 70 words in the King James Version, taking only about 25 seconds from beginning to end. This underscores the admonition of Jesus in Matthew 6, telling his listeners to avoid repetitive prayers, emphasizing the fact that it is not the length of the prayer that is important. What is important is that we pray in faith and that our prayers come from the heart.
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6: 7-8 NIV)
Acknowledging Our Father
Jesus could have instructed his disciples to start by praying, “Dear God,” but instead, he told them to begin with “Our Father,” two words that are so very rich with meaning. We discussed “our” in the first post in this series. In this second post, we will discuss the use of “Father.”
I believe Jesus suggested this opening for many reasons. First, it was the way he started his own prayers. As he did in so many things, Jesus set an example for his disciples and for us.
- “Father, I thank you that you have heard me…” (John 11:41)
- “Father, the hour has come…” (John 17:1)
- “Father forgive them; for they know not…” (Luke 23:24)
- “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit…” (Luke 23:46)
So, Jesus called him “Father,” and instructed his disciples to do the same.
Second, Jesus is emphasizing the family relationship. Just as Jesus was the Son of God, so too, we are God’s own children when we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. We were born into this world as babies, but when we receive Christ, we are born again and become children of God.
“As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12 NKJV)
This whole concept of being part of God’s family is beyond our understanding. Having grown up in the church, I’ve heard these words forever. If you are as old as I am, you may even remember the Bill Gaither song, “The Family of God,” copyrighted in 1970. We sing about it. We talk about it. But do we really believe it? Do we understand it? What does it mean to be part of his family? What does it mean to have God as our Father?
When we receive Him, we become His spiritual children and he becomes our Heavenly Father. In 1 John we read “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for his seed remains in him… he has been born of God.” (1 John 3:9 NKJV)
A father provides the seed of new life and within that seed is his DNA. In another passage, Jesus talks about “having faith of a mustard seed.” The power of the seed is one of the greatest powers in the universe. Embedded within the seed is the DNA derived from its parent. The future of the seed is certain; it will become like its parent. The concept of the seed is a perfect example from nature that helps us understand predestination and conformity to the image of God, our Father. It is his seed within us. Our role is so very small. His is so very large.
Further, when Jesus instructs the disciples to pray to “Our Father,” he is speaking of himself and the disciples as brothers. Other scriptures attest to this very fact:
- “So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters.” (Hebrews 2:11 NLT)
- “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Romans 8:29 NLT)
We are part of the family of God. We so often forget this, particularly when we are struggling through a dark time. We tend to think we are alone, and we forget that we have brothers and sisters who care for us, and a heavenly Father who is watching out for us and who is in control.
When we begin our prayers by acknowledging God as “Father,” we are acknowledging his position and our own. We are affirming the fact that we are his beloved children and we are affirming his authority.
Acknowledging his authority is often hard for us. Our human nature wants to be in charge, but when we begin by praying “Our Father,” we are putting our human nature down, affirming the fact that he is supreme, and he is the one in charge, not us.
There is also an acknowledgement of dependence; a Father provides for his children. Without him, we can do nothing—nothing of lasting importance—but with him, we can do all things! A simple childlike faith is essential. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3)
When we begin to pray, “Our Father,” there is an acknowledgement of our identity; his seed is in us, and we are predestined to be conformed to His image. (Romans 8:29) We are not orphans left to fend for ourselves. We are beloved children, made in His image, and destined to sit around the table with Him, as part of His family forever.
So we begin by praying, “Our Father,” and with those two words, we are placing ourselves in a position beside our spiritual brothers and sisters and under the authority of a loving and all powerful Father.
In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
(King James Version)
About Michelle Landsverk
I am passionate about the Word of God and believe wholeheartedly in the authenticity of scripture. I also believe that the Bible isn’t written in a secret code; God designed it to be read, understood, and lived out by everyday people. I gave my heart to Jesus when I was a child and strive everyday to live a life in which I “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God.” Micah 6:8