Learning how to pray with the Lord’s Prayer: Part 1
We must begin our prayers by reminding ourselves who we are talking to.
Words carry different meanings depending on who we’re talking to. Saying “Let’s meet up,” to a close friend might imply: I have some things on my mind, and I need advice. These same words said to a new acquaintance carries the message: I’d love to get to know you more! While, when a boss says to an employee, “Let’s meet up,” some type of comment or concern with professional performance is anticipated.
Because the recipient of our words determines their significance, we must begin our prayers by reminding ourselves who we are talking to. In Matthew 6, Jesus gives us The Lord’s Prayer as a model for how to talk to God, and it begins with stating who God is.
“Our Father in heaven,” (Matthew 6:9)
First, God is our Father.
A parent is different from a friend, a teacher, or a boss. Parents know their children better than anyone else. “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him,” Jesus explains in Matthew 6:8. Parents also have more concern for their children than anyone else. There is no sacrifice too great for the care of their child.
To understand that God is our Father is to realize that we do not need to coerce or manipulate God with our prayers. “When you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words,” Jesus says in Matthew 6:7. God listens and responds to us because he is our loving Father. The theologian John Calvin said it this way, “By the great sweetness of his name, he frees us from all distrust.”
To pray “Our Father” is to quiet the anxious voices in my heart that say, “Only I am looking out for myself.” “It’s up to me to make sure I’m okay.” To pray “Our Father” is to rest in the peaceful assurance that God knows me; he knows my needs; and he is committed to caring for me.
Second, God is in heaven.
To acknowledge that God is in heaven is to recognize that God is not limited by my earthly perspective. He is not bound by my limitations. He is above all; he knows all; he possesses the highest degree of wisdom and power. To address God-in-heaven is to remind my heart of the greatness of the one with whom I am speaking. It compels me to cast myself in dependence upon him.
“Our Father” and “In heaven” wed the intimate with the infinite. This combination secures us in the reality that God is both near and caring, but also mighty and powerful.
The content of our prayer depends upon the premise of our prayer. Do we realize we are talking to a Father? Someone who knows and loves us more deeply than we can imagine? Do we understand that we are praying to the ruler of the universe, the king of all kings who reigns in heaven? Someone who possesses ultimate control and power?
What would change if you began your prayers reminding yourself who God is before you proceed?
Our Father, in heaven…
Grace Thweatt is the founder of Renew Devotionals, and she is passionate about teaching God’s Word to help others know God more deeply and experience his abundant life. Renew leads people to encounter God with audible devotionals containing scripture, teaching and worship music. Grace lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, their one-year-old son, and Nash the golden-doodle (who’s still convinced he’s the first-born child).