I was trying to pray and I felt so inadequate, so un-able. I asked God to teach me how to pray right. I could feel His smile as He said, “I already have.” Oh yeah, I thought. I started to pray the Lord’s Prayer but I couldn’t get past “Our Father.” I broke down crying at that. Our Father.
Maybe it is because I just lost my dad in May of this year and am feeling bereft. Maybe it’s because I am going through a tough time in my life and I long for a father’s comfort and care. Maybe it is the Spirit wanting me to dig deeper. But I am going to camp out in “Our Father” for a couple of weeks. I am going to look at it from the point of view of a child. His child. And I will share what I find with you in case you need to camp out there too.
First of all, Jesus called God Our Father (Matthew 6:9). Jesus taught us to pray a prayer which has become known as the Lord’s Prayer, and He started it by addressing God as “Our Father.” The word for father is patḗr in the Greek:
“the one who imparts life and is committed to it; a progenitor, bringing into being to pass on the potential for likeness … He imparts life, from physical birth to the gift of eternal life through the second birth (regeneration, being born again). Through ongoing sanctification, the believer more and more resembles their heavenly Father – i.e. each time they receive faith from Him and obey it, which results in their unique glorification … [patḗr is] one in ‘intimate connection and relationship.’” 1
There is so much here to meditate on. He imparts life to us and is committed to us. Stop and think about that for a minute! He passes on the potential for likeness that grows each time we receive faith from Him and obey Him. We, His children, can resemble our heavenly Father. He is in intimate connection and relationship with us. Hallelujah!
Next, Jesus addressed Our Father who is in heaven (Matthew 6:9). That may make it sound like God is far away, but, for me, it is comforting to think of Him being over me, standing over me, over everything, in charge, in control, yet leaning down to hear my feeble voice. I can imagine standing with my back to Him, leaning back against Him, feeling His strength. When I look up to Him, as a child looks up to her father, His face is near. There is no distance, only glory. He is in heaven but in intimate connection and relationship with me.
Third, Jesus said that Our Father’s name was to be hallowed. Hallowed be your name (Matthew 6:9). We honor the Name, ha-Shem, of the Father. We recognize and affirm that His name is Holy, His name is the essence of the Father imparted to us. Jesus made the name known to us. “O righteous Father … I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:25-26). Psalm 75:1 says that His Name is near. And Proverbs 18:10 says, The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
God told Moses that His name was YHWH and to tell the Israelites that I AM THAT I AM had sent him. I think that this means that His name is more about who He is than a title. And the name Our Father in particular reveals his character and nature.
“What is that name of God which the revealing Son declares? Not the mere syllables by which we call Him, but the manifested character of the Father. That one name, in the narrower sense of the word, carries the whole revelation that Jesus Christ has to make; for it speaks of tenderness, of kindred, of paternal care, of the transmission of a nature, of the embrace of a divine love. And it delivers men from all their creeping dreads, from all their dark peradventures, from all their stinging fears, from all the paralysing uncertainties which, like clouds, always misty and often thunder-bearing, have shut out the sight of the divine face. If this Christ, in His weakness and humanity, with pity welling from His eyes, and making music of His voice, with the swift help streaming from His fingers-tips to every pain and weariness, and the gracious righteousness that drew little children and did not repel publicans and harlots, is our best image of God, then love is the centre of divinity, and all the rest that we call God is but circumference and fringe of that central brightness.” — Alexander MacLaren2
Creeping dreads, stinging fears, paralyzing uncertainties surround me every day. I always have wondered how a name could be near, how one could run into a name. But I can say with the psalmist that His name is near and is a strong tower, because when he says that he means that God, in His tender love, is near, that Our Father God is the strong tower. He is right here near me. I can run into my Father’s strong arms and feel safe.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him. Psalm 103:13
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 1 John 4:16-17
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Until next time rest in the embrace of His divine love.
1HELPS Word Studies by Discovery Bible
2MacLaren Expositions of Holy Scripture
Image by Andrés Nieto Porras https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nuevas_aficiones_%287984692236%29.jpg