When you pray, say...
One day, the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. He replied, "When you pray, say 'Our Father...' He then went on with what we know as the Lord's prayer.
Having become so familiar with it, have we forgotten some of its most beautiful and powerful implications?
Let's start with just those first two words: Our Father. There's a world of meaning here that we dare not allow to slip into the dustbin of long forgotten insights.
The moment we say 'Our Father' we are actually praying in Jesus' name for the only way we can cry out 'Our Father' is that Jesus Himself through His work of redemption has made us children of God. God is our Father because and through Jesus. God is Creator of all, but Father to those who have agreed to be adopted into His family through the blood of Jesus. Therefore, the instruction from the Lord to begin our prayer with 'Our Father' is the profound declaration of the adopted child .
Adoption is an amazing thing. Children unwanted by their parents or abandoned for whatever reason may be given a new name, a new identity, a new family, a new life by kindhearted adults who choose to love them and make them their own children.
That is exactly what God has done for us through the shed blood of Jesus. When we are born again and become a 'new creation', it means we have been adopted by the perfect Parent in the universe, God Himself. We have a new family name, a new identity, a new family and an entirely new life.
That Jesus says 'Our Father', not 'my Father' is equally significant. The concept of 'God' is impersonal for many people; it's a generalized term. However, Father is deeply personal; it signifies an intimate relationship with each of His children. He could have said, 'Dear God' or 'King of the Universe' or 'Holy, Exalted One' who art in heaven, but He didn't. He said, 'Our Father.' We must never minimize the power inherent in those two words.
And because we say 'Our Father', not 'my Father' we declare that not only is every other born again disciple of the Lord my brother and my sister, but most importantly, we all have the same Elder Brother! In teaching us to pray this way, Jesus was opening His arms to sweep us into the fellowship He has with His Father, now become our Father as well. If Jesus is your elder brother and He is my elder brother, then you and I are siblings by adoption - siblings of His and siblings of one another. And in this family there is no place for sibling rivalry for the Father loves each one of us as much as He loves Jesus! Does that shock you? It's true. Jesus said so.
I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them and I in them. John 17:26
Did you catch that? Jesus prays that the very same love with which the Father loved Him is the love with which He loves us. Amazing!
What powerful words: Our Father. He is 'Abba' in Hebrew, the term of endearment towards one's father, as in 'Daddy'.
May the revelation of His Fatherhood increase in each of our hearts and minds.