Have you ever considered what prayer is? What is it? Seeing a Christian at prayer must be odd for those who are not yet Christians. There is nothing scientifically provable for us to point to—analytical Reason might take us a step or two further—but in the end prayer must be categorized as a mystery. Mysticism.
It is mystical because it deals with spiritual realities. Christian prayer is unique. It doesn’t believe, like Buddhism, that we have to lose ourselves in way. In fact, we are encouraged to be present, personally. We are to be present with God, Himself. God in our midst. And that makes us different from Muslims and Jewish folks. God is near to us, not far away.
Today, as we begin to look at some of the important lessons of The Lord’s Prayer, I want to begin with the first phrase, “Our Father, Who is in Heaven.” Uh-oh, something is up, here. It is the Lord’s (singular) Prayer, but in the first line and throughout uses the words our and us (plural). Have you ever thought about that?
It is important to remember that Jesus has given us his prayer. His prayer reveals his heart. And right from the outset, we see that he has made his relationship with his Father a we-relationship…The Father and Son have opened their family to us. In Christ, we call God, our Father.
Dig deeper. I want us to see some Scriptural connections (and this is based off of N. T. Wright’s study). The first occasion where God calls Israel His Son is in Exodus 4:22-23. God tells Moses to tell Pharaoh that, “Israel is my firstborn son, so let him go that he may worship Me.” The significance of this is that God chose Israel to be His People, His Son…and God has no desire for His People to be someone’s slaves.
But we also know another Son of God. God’s Only Begotten Son, Jesus. And we find many points of Jesus’ special relationship with God throughout Scripture. God promises David in 2 Samuel 7:14 that one of his descendants will establish and occupy a throne that will never be shaken—this Messiah will rule forever, completely. God says, “I will be his Father and he will be my Son.”
Jesus is the Son of God. And we see the goodness of the Father toward Jesus. But that isn’t good enough for The Father. He says through the prophet Isaiah multiple times, let’s use Isaiah 55:1-3, that His fatherly love will be showered on all who come to Him. “Come to me and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, the one promised to David.”
From the One (Jesus), many (Christians) will be adopted as sons and daughters. Jesus says in Mark 3:35 and Hebrews 2:10-11, whoever does God’s will, is his family.
Jesus was God’s Only Begotten Son and he did/does the will of his Father. If we are to be sons and daughters of the Father, we must follow the example set forth by our big brother, Jesus. Titles and relationships have responsibilities attached to them.
Here is a difficult part of the life of Jesus—the brotherly relationship I have with him and the son relationship I have with The Father:
If you remember the life of Jesus, he said on numerous occasions, that he had come to do the Father’s will and he would not stray from it. Even at his prayer in the Garden, before his execution, when he told his Father that he did not want to do it, but he would if the Father willed it (Luke 22:42).
Hebrews 5:7-9 gives an insight to Jesus’ life. In Jesus’ life, he prayed and petitioned his Father in reverent submission. He learned obedience from what he suffered. Jesus learned through the suffering he endured—we will learn through the suffering we endure. “You cannot be my disciple unless you take up your cross and follow me.”
For whatever reason (because it doesn’t make sense to our limited, human minds), The Father has said that our salvation and the world’s salvation comes through godly suffering—the costly work of laying our lives down for strangers and haters.
In much of history, the son was apprenticed to the father. Whatever the father’s trade or work, so too, the son. Jesus’ life was no different, he learned to do the work of his Father.
What has your father taught you? Joseph taught Jesus carpentry; Peter’s father taught him to fish; Paul’s taught him to make tents. Yet, the Heavenly Father called them to something greater: Jesus built something eternal with wood and nails; Peter became a fisher of men; Paul was used to sew together two peoples (Jew and Gentile) into one (the Church).
Our Heavenly Father is looking to train us—to repurpose our lives for His purposes. What is He teaching you? Your title, Son/Daughter, has a responsibility with it. Being a Son/Daughter isn’t an empty, honorary position. He is calling us into His work, His mission just as He did His own Son.
Our Heavenly Father has placed us in this tumultuous world to be the crossroad between Heaven and Earth. Where we are at, so is Christ. We are to bring Christ to a hurting world—we are where Heaven and Earth come together to find salvation.
Today is the day that we have set aside to honor our fathers. We honor them for what they have provided us: a home, safety, understanding, and so on. But we know, too, that our Heavenly Father wants more for us. I know that I desire my children to love me and learn from me.
But, even more, I desire that my children will become a Son and Daughter of Our Father Who is in Heaven. I want them to be close with Jesus, adopted.
That intimacy is what prayer is about. Prayer is this mysterious, spiritual connection—relation—we have with the Father of Jesus, Our Father. And this closeness to God brings about a revelation and revolution in our lives, radically repurposing our lives for His Kingdom.