Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Praying to "Our Father in Heaven"

In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus taught his disciples to pray using a prayer commonly known as "The Lord's Prayer." This prayer begins by addressing God, “Our Father in heaven…” (6:9). These opening words remind us of several truths:
  • God is our Father only through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the one who gives you the right to be called children of God (John 1:12). Jesus makes God your Father through your regeneration and through your adoption. To pray in the name of Jesus is to pray through his mediation, having been reconciled to God through faith in him. In this way, you may know God as your Father and not as a hostile judge. 
  • God is our Father, therefore we should give him reverence. We are commanded to honor our earthly fathers and mothers in the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:12). Honor and revere, then, your Father in heaven (Mal. 1:6). 
  • God is our Father, therefore we should come with confidence. He cares for his children. "Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? ... If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" (Matt. 7:9–11)
  • God is our Father in heaven, therefore we should distinguish him from the faults of earthly fathers and remember that God is all-powerful, and therefore able to do what we ask. “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Ps. 115:3).  
  • God is our Father, therefore we pray with brothers and sisters, children of the same Father. I do not just mean the people that you connect with - I mean the people that God has brought into his family, the church. If you love God, you will love his children (1 John 4:20-5:1). You should pray with God’s children, since Jesus envisions the disciples praying this together. You should pray for God’s children, since you make these requests for "us." You should remember God’s children even when you "go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret" (Matt. 6:6).  
And so to summarize in the words of the Westminster Shorter Catechism:
"The preface of the Lord's prayer, which is, Our Father which art in heaven, teacheth us to draw near to God with all holy reverence and confidence, as children to a father able and ready to help us; and that we should pray with and for others."

This is adapted from a portion of my recent sermon on the Lord's Prayer. It is available online at this link

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