Faith and Christianity, Prayer

Our Father

When I have difficulty in falling asleep 😴 I will try counting backwards from 100. Sometimes it works and I realize I’ve drifted off at some number and haven’t finished. Counting sheep never worked for me.

My wife says she just repeats the Lord’s Prayer. That’s probably not the reason Jesus taught this Prayer to the disciples! But as you say in your mind the words beginning with “Our Father” it’s good to reflect upon each word Jesus choose to use.

Mat 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Mat 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Mat 6:11  Give us this day our daily bread.

Mat 6:12  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Mat 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

In this post here are a few reflections on just the first two words.

Our Father

First Jesus identifies the Father as “Our” Father. The word “our” is enough to fill a theology book. Some texts that come to mind are:

Right in the immediate passage…”thy” and “your” Father. Jesus links us to the Father as brothers and sisters.

Mat 6:6  But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Mat 6:8  Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Mat 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
Mat 6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

In many passages Jesus makes it clear his connection with the Father as the second person in the Trinity. And this is exclusive.

Mat 11:27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

Mat 12:50  For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Joh 5:17  But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.

Joh 5:18  Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus extends to the Father even to our own election.

Joh 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Joh 6:45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
Joh 6:46 Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.
Joh 6:47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
Joh 6:48 I am that bread of life.

Addressing John 6:46, old John Gill explains a key point less we assume we can have direct access to God the Father, independent of himself.

Not that any man hath seen the Father,…. This is said, lest it should be thought from the above words, that our Lord meant that men should be so taught of God, as that they should visibly see the Father, and vocally hear his voice, and be personally instructed by him; for his voice is not heard, nor his shape seen; see Joh 1:18;

save he which is of God; who is begotten of him, and of the same nature and perfections with him, though a distinct person from him, and who was always with him, and lay in his bosom:

he hath seen the Father; has perfect knowledge of him, personal communion with him; has seen the perfections and glory of his person, and the thoughts, purposes, and counsels of his heart, his whole mind, and will, and all the grace, goodness, and mercy which is in him, and has declared it; see Joh 1:18.

I will end with another quote from Gill.

Again (l), let the prayers and the requests of all Israel be received by אבוהון די בשמיא, “their Father, which is in heaven”. They seem to have a regard to this prayer, when they apply that passage in Pro 3:35 “shame shall be the promotion of fools”, to the nations of the earth, who, they say (m),
“do not consider the glory of the law; and how, say they, “our Father which art in heaven”, hear our voice, have mercy on us, and receive our prayer?”
So in confessions, thanksgivings, and sacrifices of praise, they required, and looked upon it, as the main thing, for a man to direct his heart לאביו שבשמים, “to his Father which is in heaven (n).” By “father”, our Lord means the first person in the Trinity, who is the Father of all men by creation, and of the saints by adoption; who are to address him in prayer under the character of “our Father”, partly to command a reverential fear of him, and partly to secure boldness and liberty of speech before him; and also to express fiducial confidence in him, faith of interest in him, and relation to him; which arises from some experience of his paternal love, and requires the witnessings of the Spirit of adoption; and inasmuch as the direction is not to say “my Father”, but “our Father”; it shows that we should pray for others as well as for ourselves, even for all the dear children of God.

The object of prayer is further described by the place of his residence, “in heaven”; not that he is included in any place, but that the heaven of heavens is the place where he most eminently displays his glory: and this may teach us to look upwards in prayer, and seek those things which are above; and also, that this earth, on which we dwell, is not our native country, but heaven is, where our Father dwells.

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