“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven,...”
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus sets an example for His followers about how to have an intimate and non-formalized relationship with God, just as He has with God the Father and God the Spirit. One of the things the disciples observed about the relationship between God the Father and God the Son was that it was intimate and close. It was not formal and distant, as was typical in how the Israelites understood and addressed God the Father. Notice how the Psalmist addressed God in Psalm 104:1-4.
"Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty, Covering Yourself with light as with a cloak, Stretching out heaven like a tent curtain. He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters; He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind; He makes the winds His messengers, Flaming fire His ministers."
There are hundreds of prayers like this one in Scripture where the creature is submissively asking the Almighty powerful God for help and wisdom. That is not how Jesus says to go about interacting with God. Instead, his message is different: “If you are intrigued by my relationship with God, then start from a different place in approaching God.” In other words, if you start from a formal, distant place, you can’t get to the kind of relationship you want with God.
Jesus begins His instructions about how to have a robust, intimate relationship with God by making one of the most shocking declarations in the whole of His instructions about prayer. He says to begin your interaction with God on a familial basis (call Him Father), instead of a formalized Creator-to-creature basis; instead of All-Powerful-King-to-subject basis. Look also at Matthew 6:6-10. Notice the use of the word Father.
“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.”
When you start the conversation with God from the position of a Father-Son or Father-Daughter, then the relationship can get very close from that point. This was scandalous for the disciples to hear. They were being taught to assume that they presently had a Father-Son or Father-Daughter relationship with God so they should begin interacting with God on that basis. This moves the intimacy factor forward much more quickly because sons and daughters can approach a King, a business leader, or a celebrity by getting past all the guards, assistants, and protocol relating to the real person. Jesus knows that:
Fathers allow their children to approach them.
Fathers want their children to run up to them and hug them.
Fathers want to hear all about their children’s day and adventures.
Fathers want to see their children do well and succeed.
Fathers look to provide every advantage they can for their children without spoiling them.
Fathers show the look of love in their face when their children approach them.
Fathers want to educate their children about why they didn’t succeed the last time.
Fathers want their children to ask them for help.
Fathers comfort their children when they are hurt or confused.
Fathers protect their children from many, but not all, difficulties.
Fathers want their children to be wise, not just smart.
Fathers take the time to teach and train their children to survive and thrive in the world.
God wants to do all of these things for us. But we will only get to this level of intimacy if we begin with this familial-like posture. We need, and God wants for us, to share deeply and ask for help and insight. He wants intimacy with us.
I would love to hear from you and your experience with prayer and how God has answered prayers for you in your life. Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember, your greatest life is just ahead.
In His service,
P.S. Want more of Life Is Relationships? Click here for past issues!
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