Pray, then, like this:
Our Father in Heaven,
Hallowed be your name.
I’ve been working through the Lord’s prayer with some guys I am discipling and also in my own prayer life. Sometimes it’s good to go back and work your way through familiar things. When you do so, gems are discovered. I think that is true with the Lord’s prayer. I have recited the Lord’s prayer thousands upon thousands of times. It is very familiar to me. But as I have returned to it, beautiful truths have emerged that have captured my heart. I’d like to share one with you.
First, the context. In Matthew 6, Jesus is teaching about prayer and he says there are three ways to pray. There is the religious way, the pagan way and Jesus’ way. The religious way is to pray in front of people, talking to God, but not caring if God hears you. What religious prayers really care about is other people noticing them. The pagan way to pray is to say a bunch of words, hoping that with just the right words, God will hear you and do what you ask. Jesus’s way of prayer cuts through these errors.
Now the gem. Jesus teaches us to pray his way to really relate to God. How does he begin? He begins with “Our Father in Heaven.” Notice the pronoun, “our.” In teaching us to pray, Jesus is sharing with us, his relationship with the Father. Jesus is bringing us into his relationship with the Father—he is Jesus’s Father, and because of Jesus, he is our Father.
What is even more remarkable, is that the reason we can be brought into relationship with God as Father, is because Jesus himself was rejected for us. How did Jesus bring us into family relationship with God? Jesus was rejected by humanity. The very ones he came to save, rejected him. But in being rejected by us, and being killed by us, Jesus secured the forgiveness of our sins, and restored relationship with God.
If you have ever been rejected, you know it hurts—it hurts badly. Jesus knows what this is like, and we can find comfort with him. Even more, though we may be rejected, Jesus was rejected to bring us into relationship—into relationship with his Father. With Jesus, we have a relationship with the more important being in the universe. Jesus teaches us to pray to God as Father, our Father.