Our Father

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The Lord’s Prayer has been repeated hundreds, if not thousands of times throughout the lifetime of many Christians. But, if you’re anything like me, you haven’t spent much time really thinking about what you are saying. So over the next few months I’m going to take a journey of discovery, and drag you along with me. We might not learn anything new, but then again, if nothing else, we should come out with a new appreciation of the One who is “Our Father.”

That alone is a profound thought. Philip Keller explains, “Prior to the time of Jesus, God was regarded as someone remote and august in His demeanor. He sat in the high and holy place, a stern Judge behind the hard, harsh bar of the Law. Only with fear and foreboding did any man dare to address himself to such a powerful potentate.”[1] And yet Jesus invites us to address Him as Father!

Arthur Pink says, “What is more calculated to deepen our confidence and to draw forth the strongest love and earnest hopes of our hearts toward God, than Christ’s presenting Him to us in His most tender aspect and enduring relation [as our Father]? How we are here encouraged to use holy boldness and to pour out our souls before Him!”[2]

There is, of course, an important point we must address right here. As the late J.I. Packer explains, “Prayer to God as Father is for Christians only”![3] So if you are not a member of God’s family (see John 1:12), then please stop right now and accept God’s gracious gift of salvation. There is a link here on the website where you can learn more about how to become a Christian.

Back to Philip Keller. (I thoroughly enjoyed his book A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer, and will likely quote him often in this series. Sorry, not sorry.) He says,

Wrapped up in this little expression, “Our Father,” lies a whole dimension of intimate companionship between father and child, between God and me. It reduces all the complications of life to a very simple, though very special, relationship. I sense that I am a child of God. I know assuredly that God is my Father and I am the object of His constant love and attention. There steals over my soul the realization that His concern and care for me are never ending, that His patience and compassion and mercy and understanding are always extended to me. In every situation of life, no matter how unusual or adverse, there comes the quiet assurance to my heart that I am His and He is mine.[4]

I love that—“I am His, and He is mine.” But not only mine. As Warren Wiersbe explains, “The Lord’s Prayer begins with relationships—our relationship to God (“Our Father”) and our relationship to God’s people (“Our Father”).[5] And, in fact, this idea of community, of family, is found throughout the prayer. The requests are always in terms of “our” or “us”: “give us… forgive us… lead us… deliver us….” 

So remember when you pray this prayer that you are praying as a member of the family of God all over the world, or, as J.I. Packer said so eloquently, “For God’s child, prayer is no ‘flight of the alone to the Alone,’ but concern for the family is built into it.”[6]

Jesus Christ invites us, commands us, and allows us to speak with him to God, to pray with him his own prayer, to be united with him in the Lord’s Prayer. Therefore he invites us to adore God, pray to God and praise God with one mouth and one soul, with him, united to him.[7]

Go Deeper

[1] W. Philip Keller, A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer (Moody Publishers, 1976), p. 13.

[2] Arthur Pink, The Lord’s Prayer (Arthur pink Collection Book 39: Prisbrary Publishing, Kindle Edition).

[3] J.I. Packer, Growing in Christ (Crossway Books, 1994), p. 163.

[4] P. Keller, p. 24.

[5] Warren W. Wiersbe, On Earth as It Is in Heaven (Baker Books, 2010), p. 23.

[6] Packer, p. 165.

[7] Karl Barth, Prayer, 50th anniversary edition (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2002), pp. 22-23.

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