Day Two: ‘Our Father’
‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name’ might be thought of as a ‘temple prayer’. Throughout Israel’s history, the central symbol of Jewish life and worship was the temple in Jerusalem. In the temple, nothing unclean (nothing to do with sin or death) was permitted. Today, as we approach God as ‘Our Father’ we are reminded of our gracious and royal inheritance through Jesus the King. Because of who he is and what he has done, we may freely enter God’s presence as his fully forgiven and purified followers.
In the Old Testament, the notion of addressing God as father is rare. However, we do find the idea of Israel as God’s son and God’s children (Deuteronomy 14:1, Hosea 11:1). In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches that our prayers ought to be distinguished from a jumble of heaped up words to a faceless and nameless god. Instead, we are personally related to the One true God whom Jesus himself approached as Father. In and through the King, Jesus, the temple-prayers of God’s children may be offered with genuine devotion and trust. We can proclaim our dependence and our confident hope in God our Father, who cares for and watches over us.
‘May your name be honored’ contains a temple-resonance and reminds us that we are addressing the one true King and Creator God. Yet, there is also a familiar intimacy that comes from actually knowing who we are talking to! Indeed, invoking God as our Father is to call upon the name of the one who promised to deliver Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob from all that enslaved them and prevented them from being who they were intended to be.
Just as Jesus was with his disciples teaching them to pray, he continues to teach us through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Those who belong to and follow the King of Kings have now become part of God’s new family. As such, we too pray, ‘Abba, Father’, the way that Jesus prayed. We are encouraged to call upon ‘our Father’ because this is now our prayer. In fact, we are the temple-space in which God comes to dwell by his Spirit in the midst of his people.
The Lord’s Prayer provides a pattern for God’s children to offer genuine praise to the Father. As we bring our petitions, burdens and worries to him, with thanksgiving and hope, we are also praying that our good and faithful Father hears and responds to those who call upon his holy name.
Question to consider:
Reflect on the idea of the Lord’s Prayer as a temple prayer. How does this impact your understanding of praying to ‘our Father’?
Living it out:
In what context might the Lord’s Prayer have a practical impact on your interactions with others in your family, workplace, or community today? What praises or concerns can you bring before God our Father today?