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Teach Us To Pray

Our Father

    Jesus said, “When you pray, say Our Father...”.  What an incredible thing it is to speak and be heard by the Great Eternal God!  King David, when still a shepherd boy looking up at the stars, thought it was remarkable that the Almighty Creator God would even take the time to think of man.  He wrote in Psalms 8:3-4:

    “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;  What is man, that thou art mindful of him?”

    Now, Jesus was inviting the disciples to have a two-way relationship with God.  This was more than they could grasp – to know God and to be known by Him!  For three and a half years, Jesus taught them things they would need to know to be able to build a personal relationship with the Father, once they were converted.  In their carnal state of mind, they would only hear the words of Jesus – not understand them.  The Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 2:11, would later explain that the Spirit of God was required to understand spiritual concepts.

    “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.”

    God is Our Father.  These words express the understanding that God is literally our personal Father.  Every one of us has had an earthly father, who imparted temporary physical life to us.  We know that the Father is spirit.  One becomes a begotten child of the Father when he is baptized, converted and given a portion of His Life – that is, His Spirit dwelling in us.  It is man’s ultimate potential to become born-again spirit and divine members in the Father’s family for the rest of eternity.  John says this in 1 John 3:1-3.

    “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God… Beloved, now are we the sons of God… we know that… we shall be like Him.”

    We will see the Father and be like Him!  This great truth was not known by those in Old Testament times.  There were indications within the Scriptures like the one in Psalms 110:1.

     “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”

    There was not enough revelation to establish the greater awareness of the Father we now possess. It is not recorded in the Scriptures that John the Baptist knew or taught anything about God the Father.  Indeed, those Scriptures were puzzling to men up until the time that Jesus made the Father known.  Luke 10:22 shows that it was only Jesus who could unveil the hidden reality of the Father.

    “All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who…the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him.”

    All throughout His earthly life, Jesus yielded to the Father. Jesus did the Will of His Father rather than doing things His own way.  He always gave the Father all the credit.  Keep in mind that up until this time in their lives, the disciples had precious little knowledge of the Father.  Before this time, they did not look to the Father or pray to the Father.  When Jesus taught them to pray, “Our Father,” He was beginning to teach them to yield totally to the Father (not to Himself).   

    Even as a child, Jesus knew the Father and did His bidding.  When He was only twelve years old, He told His parents, “I must be about My Father’s business.”  Jesus was unique in that He had a continuous relationship with His Father.  Jesus never sinned!  Sin cuts man off from having a relationship with the Father. 

    Not only was Jesus revealing the Father to man, He was going to make it possible for man to have a one-on-one relationship with the Father.  Adam’s sin had caused mankind to be cutoff from God.  The brethren of the church that Jesus would establish would have the tremendous privilege of coming before the Father in an intimate way.  As sinners, we were completely isolated from Him, just as those in the world are now unable to have a friendship with the Father.  Isaiah gives us an example of this in 64:7.

     “…For Thou hast hid thy face from us,…because of our iniquities.”

    For any relationship with the Father to be possible, man’s sins would have to be removed.  Matthew records in 11:27 how Jesus also revealed the fact that access to the Father was strictly limited.

    “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”

    Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins – making access to the Father possible.  The words Our Father carry us to the very throne of God, where Jesus is now seated at His right hand.

    Kneeling before Him, we know that we are incapable of picturing Him in all His glory and realize full well that His very brilliance would obscure His face.  In the Scriptures, we have only been given glimpses of the Father and Christ’s glorified appearances.  Paul explained our inability to actually see God to Timothy when he wrote in 1 Timothy 6:16 that Jesus and His Father were:

     “… dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see…” 

    In reality, they can only be seen spiritually by spirit beings as Jesus unveiled to us while speaking of little children in Matthew 18:10.  He said that indeed the angels behold God’s face continually.

    “… I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”

    The establishment of a close, personal working relationship with our Father is what He desires.  This “closeness” is of paramount importance in the development of our spiritual character. God has said to usI am the LORD thy God.”   Nothing, nothing at all, can be allowed to come between God and us.  In the statement, “Our Father,” we declare that He is our Creator and that we owe our very existence to Him.

    Jesus could have begun the prayer, “My Father in heaven…” But He didn’t use My; instead He used Our.  Perhaps we would like to have an exclusive relationship with the Father, but the very word, Our indicates that God’s Will is to be Father of all mankind. 

    We are to come before the Almighty God of the universe in awe and respect, as one among all His creation.  It would be an improper and arrogant concept to think of ourselves as having the inside track with God, to the exclusion of others. That is why Jesus didn’t teach us to pray, “My Father.”

    In 2 Peter 3:9, the LORD reveals His plan for all of mankind.  “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”  In addressing our Father in prayer, we must remember that we are merely a part of His great design.

    There are many beautiful prayers recorded in the Old Testament Scriptures.  They are a part of the Word of God.  We are blessed to have them and the teaching that Jesus gave the disciples on how to pray.  As we will see, Jesus Christ’s instructions on how to pray include all the understanding of the Bible.  The more we know about God’s plan and purpose for mankind, the better we can know Him.  The better we know Him – the better our relationship with Him will be.

    Jesus has given us this prayer outline – known by many as “the Lord’s Prayer” – to help us comprehend our part in His great plan and better define our relationship with our Father.

     “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

(1 John 1:3)

Chapter 4 - Who Art In Heaven 

Teach Us To Pray