Updated: Jul 1, 2020
Not a word is wasted in this prayer. In fact, we can’t get past the first word without having to pause and examine its meaning.
When Jesus teaches us to pray, its not “my” Father in Heaven; its “our.” This is a tough sell in modern American culture. We cherish our rugged individualism. We say things like, “that’s between you and God.” We hold these truths to be self evident: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and what happens between you and God stays between you and God. It’s an affront to our individualism that we cannot earn our salvation, but must rely on Jesus to secure our standing with the Father. Isn’t prayer an intimate place where I get to be the point?
In fact, a significant part of the heartbeat of this prayer is that you are not the point. And it starts with the first word.
When Jesus saved us, he adopted us into his family. He granted us citizenship in heaven’s kingdom. He formed us into one cohesive body. He invites us to an amazing wedding feast. Whichever metaphor you favor, there’s more going on than just a relationship with you and God. You are part of something bigger. And you cannot pray outside of that context.
Yes, you heard me right.
You cannot pray outside of the context that you are part of a much bigger picture. That doesn’t mean you can’t pray by yourself or about your needs and concerns. Jesus prayed by himself as have countless of his followers over the last 2,000-ish years. But every time you pray it has consequences larger than you. You might be praying for someone. You might be praying about a relationship. You might be praying for global concerns. The lager context is obvious in these prayers. Even if you’re “only” praying about your own needs and concerns, it affects a larger context. Praying about “your stuff” forges a deeper bond with God and makes you a more effective ambassador of Jesus in this world (which is your God-given mission).
So, its always “our” Father; you are always praying in some context. In order to honor this truth, I start the Lord’s Prayer by thinking about my context. Am I praying alone or with people?
What needs are driving this time of prayer? Who will the outcome affect? Where am I praying (home, work, church, etc)? What impact can my prayers make in this place? When I start with “our Father,” I want to be clear about who I’m praying with (even if I’m
Next up: Part 3: Father in Heaven