Saturday, June 16, 2018

Our Father

As we in the United States celebrate Father’s Day, we honor our earthly fathers who love us, provide for us, train us, and were our first authority figures and role models (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:4). Sadly, not all fathers meet this ideal, and some children have never known their biological father or have even had a loving father figure involved in their upbringing.

Praise the Lord, the perfect Father is available to all who call on the Name of His Son (Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13). Once we are saved by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), He gives us eternal life (John 3:16). At the moment of salvation, we are transformed from children of the devil to children of God, and we become part of God’s family and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:14-17).

There is a popular misconception that all human beings are God’s children. Although all are God’s creation (Genesis 1:26-27), only those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior can call God their Father. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, the religious leaders of that time, because their hearts were far from Him (Matthew 15:1-9). 
Therefore He said that they were children of their father the devil and would do his bidding (John 8:41-44).

But for His followers and disciples who believe that Jesus is the Son of God and God Himself, Jesus taught us a beautiful prayer when asked how we should pray (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4). That model prayer is often referred to as the Lord’s Prayer, but that term is more appropriately applied to the prayer He prayed for all His followers in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before His crucifixion (John 17).

The model prayer has become so familiar that there is a danger it will be repeated by rote, without meditation on the beauty and meaning of each word. Jesus warned against such “vain repetitions” (Matthew 6:7).  However, those who have memorized it or will memorize it can surely benefit from slowly savoring each word that Jesus taught us to pray to the Father, in His Name, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 6:9 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.

Our” reminds us of the awesome privilege born-again believers (John 3:3-8) have of being able to call God “Our Father.” This is a relationship we share not only with fellow Christians but with Jesus Christ Himself, for He is the only begotten Son of the Father (John 3:16), while we have been adopted into God’s family (Ephesians 1:5).

Father” is a term that connotes the love and affection that we have for our Abba Father (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6), like the name “Daddy” used by a small child for the one who showers blessings upon her. She can come running into his arms when afraid or climb into his lap when lonely without fear of rebuke or rejection. Abba Father loves us infinitely (1 John 4:7-19), yet God is also the perfect, holy Father (Psalm 68:5) Whom we should fear and respect (Psalm 111:10), for He has perfect righteousness (John 17:25) and infinite power and wisdom (2 Chronicles 20:6; Psalm 62:11; 103:13; Job 36:5).

Which art in heaven,” tells us that God is on His heavenly throne (Psalm 45:6; 47:8), a vantage point from which He sees all, knows all, and sustains all (Psalm 139:80; Isaiah 40:28).

Hallowed be thy name” refers to praising God (Psalm 146:1-2) for His holiness, which is an essential component of any prayer (Psalm 72:15-19). We recognize the Name of God and of Jesus Christ as the Name above all Names, and the only Name by which we may be saved (Acts 2:21, 4:12; Romans 10:13). All will one day honor His Name by confessing that He is Lord (Romans 14:11) – how much better to do it now, in loving prayer, than to defy Him until we are forced to face Him in terror of His judgment!

Thy will be done in earth” should also be included in every prayer, for the purpose of prayer is not to change God’s mind, but to bring our desires in alignment with His perfect will (Proverbs 3:5-6; Luke 22:42). Because He possesses all knowledge of all things past, present and future (Psalm 139:1-12), and because of His complete, self-sacrificing love for us (John 15:13; Jeremiah 31:3), His will for our lives is always perfect, even when we don’t like it or can’t understand it (Isaiah 55:9).

As it is in heaven” sets the absolute standard by which to gauge circumstances. In Heaven there is no pain, suffering, sorrow, aging, sickness, death, or sin (Revelation 7:17; 21:4). Our prayer should acknowledge that God’s will for us on earth is perfect, just as Scripture tells us that His will being done in Heaven results in the perfection found there.

Give us this day our daily bread” reflects the perfect gifts our Father freely gives us (Matthew 7:11). We do not pay for these gifts, work for them, or barter for them, any more than we can earn God’s freely given gift of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9). He will provide for us if we ask Him daily for what we need each day. Like the manna with which God fed the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 16), God’s blessings cannot be hoarded or stored, for His compassions are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” If we repent of our sins by asking God’s forgiveness, He is faithful to forgive us (1 John 1:9) and to separate us from our sins as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12). But in light of His great mercy and forgiveness, which He extends to all of us even though it was our sins that crucified Him, He desires that we forgive others in return (Matthew 18:15-35). This is possible only through the indwelling Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), which is why we must pray for the power to forgive by yielding to Him (Ephesians 4:20-32).

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:” Scripture promises that God cannot tempt us with evil (James 1:13), and that whenever we are tempted, He will always provide a way for us to escape the temptation so that we do not sin (1 Corinthians 10:13). Resisting evil (James 4:7) and fleeing from temptation are not innate characteristics because of our sin nature (Romans 5:12), but are desired and can be accomplished only by yielding to the Holy Spirit. Praying to Our Father, in Jesus’ Name, through the power of the Holy Spirit, gives us the victory in the spiritual battle we fight daily (Ephesians 6:10-18).

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.” To God be the glory, for He reigns supreme, and will allow us to rule with Him in the Millennial Kingdom! (Revelation 20:4,6). He alone is the source of all power, so He alone deserves our praise and can answer our prayers.

Praise God that no matter what our earthly father is or was like, we are His child and He is our perfect Heavenly Father. May we honor Him daily with our praise and prayers!

© 2018 Laurie Collett



Susan said...

Hi Laurie, thank the Lord and our God the Father that He is gracious and merciful and forgiving! I once worked with a Catholic woman who told me she could never pray to nor trust men for the abuse she had endured by them and was grateful that Mary was there to intercede for her. 😞I was a baby in the Lord at the time, and although I knew that what she said was wrong, I didn’t have a clue how to answer her. I hope and pray she was able to find that Mary has no power to save or intercede and that the Father and Son alone could help her in times of need. Thank you always for your excellent posts...I still haven’t been able to get back to posting yet (my hubby is using my laptop and I have a hard time trying to do it on my tablet 😢) bless you ❤️

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Susan,
Praise the Lord that He is the perfect Father and Intercessor, the One Mediator between God and man. Mary was highly favored among women, but as you say, she has no power to save or intercede, as it is only by the Name of Jesus that we can be saved. Thank you for your comment, and I look forward to reading your posts soon! God bless you too!

Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
The Lord's prayer was recited by us every morning at school assembly from the age of five to 15 years old, when I left school for good to enter the world of work.
In those days such praying was part of religion, not a relationship with God. So after leaving school I was glad to be out of it to live in the real world, believe me!
It was only through conversion to faith in Jesus Christ over five year after leaving school when I began to appreciate the true value of the prayer.
Unfortunately, I know churchgoers in my fellowship who refuses to forgive other people's shortfalls and at least two of them believes that they have the full right to judge. Of course, they are also Arminians, who have much difficulty in accepting God as a loving Father to them.
An excellent post, God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
I also attended school where the model prayer, Ps. 23, and other familiar Scripture were regularly part of daily assembly, along with prayer and singing hymns. Sadly, that is now the exception rather than the norm. As you say, these religious observances are no substitute for a relationship with Jesus Christ, but they at least expose young minds to God's Word and soften their hearts so that they may one day be saved.
Thanks as always for sharing your insights and God bless,