The Model Prayer: Our Father

Man reading Psalms at the Western Wall. Jerusa...
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Augustine said, “Prayer calms and purifies the heart and makes it more capacious for receiving the Divine gifts. God is always ready to give us His light, but we are not always ready to receive it. By prayer we open channels through which blessings, which are always ready, may flow.”

Have you ever caught yourself trying to impress others by the way you pray or what you say to God?

Prayer is not a means of impressing other people. What a tragedy when communion with God is reduced to carnal religious egotism.

How then shall we pray? Because it should be our habitual practice to pray daily, Jesus gave a model prayer to guide or fashion our prayers. Jesus said find a private place to be unobserved (Matthew 6:5-7). “The secret of religion is religion in secret,” says McNeile. God is always there in the secret place. Jesus said neither the length of our prayers impresses God, nor the repetition of words or phrases. Filson observes that Jesus’ prayers “have simplicity, conciseness, intellectual clarity, and spiritual comprehensiveness.” In the model prayer Jesus is not concerned about a set form of words, but a model in fashioning other prayers.

“Our Father who art in heaven” (v. 9). Jesus frequently uses “My Father” and “your Father,” but He never joins the disciples with “our Father.” His relationship with His Father is unique. It is a miracle that we can call God “our Father who art in heaven.” It is a great liberating discovery to be able to call God “our Father” and rest in His love. We must always keep in mind that when we address God intimately as “Father” that we also recognize His infinite greatness as the sovereign of the universe. Our relationship to God as Father brings us near to His might, majesty and power.

God is thrice holy, and His name is holy. We are commanded to treat His name differently from all other names. Do you cringe when you hear God’s name used in a curse or in a vain manner?

His name is holy and must be held in proper reverence because His name represents all that He is. To honor His name is to honor God, and to exalt Him above all others.

We are even permitted to call God Father using the most personal of all words, abba, “daddy” (Matt. 11:25; 26:39, 42; Mk. 14:36; Lk. 23:34; Jn. 11:41; 12:27; 17:1, 5, 11, 21, 24, 25; Rom. 8:15-16;   Gal. 4:6). But the God to whom we pray must never be treated lightly. He is personal and caring and must always be held in reverence, honor, glory and high exaltation. The psalmist declared, “O magnify Jehovah with me and let us exalt His name together” (Ps. 34:3). The holy name of God and Jesus Christ must never be used in vain or jesting. We must be reverent before all that God is and stands for. We must keep His name holy.

Luther asked, “How is God’s name hallowed amongst us?” He answered, “When both our life and doctrine are truly Christian.” We worship Him in full reverence when we are constantly obedient to His revealed will in His Word.

“Our Father” reminds us that He is always infinitely near His children. He is always available to us when we call upon His name. We are always encouraged to approach Him with confidence and not be afraid. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

We must also keep in mind that apart from Jesus Christ no one can come to the Father. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6).


Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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