The Lord's Prayer: Our Father in Heaven
In Jesus’ first words of instruction on how to pray the emphasis is not on how or why, but who. Many people ask, “Why should I believe prayer impacts my life?” The first four words of The Lord’s Prayer will answer this question in a beautifully succinct, disarming and powerful way. Why should we pray? Because the Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe is a good, loving, present Father.
Sociologists have undertaken studies that reveal in every culture, regardless of ethnicity, geography or history there is a common understanding of what a good father looks like. A good father provides and protects; a good father is tender and tough; a good father is consistent and present. In the end, a good father loves his children. Christians believe this innate desire in the human heart for a good father exists because we were made in the image of a God who is Father, Son and Spirit. We long for a loving, fatherly relationship because we were designed to enjoy intimacy with our Heavenly Father. The Bible tells us God the Father provides for us (Phil. 4:19), protects us (Matt. 10:29-31), encourages us (Psalm 10:17), comforts us (2 Cor. 1:3-4) and disciplines us (Heb. 12:10).
Before we truly see the power of this Fatherly prayer, we need to be born again. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). In the same way we understand our earthly father because of our physical birth, we understand our Heavenly Father because of our spiritual new birth! This new birth happens when we trust in the atoning work of Jesus death on the cross and turn from a life of rebellion and sin. When we trust in Jesus as Savior and King we are forgiven of our sins, adopted into God’s family, and filled with the Spirit that cries out, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:1-4, 15). Charles Spurgeon put it like this, “When I regarded God as a tyrant, I thought my sin a trifle, but when I knew Him to be my Father, then I mourned that I ever have kicked against Him.” Knowing the intimacy of God as Our Father melts our hearts in worship. Knowing the majesty of God who is In Heaven moves us to our knees in prayer.
Tragically, many who say "Our Father" on Sunday spend the rest of the week living like orphans. That is why Jesus instructs us to pray to God not only as my Father but our Father. When we pray we are not praying alone – we belong to a family. A good father does not forsake any his children. This is why regular church attendance, Bible studies and prayer groups are so important. Prayer to Our Father reminds His children there has never been a time when we have been unloved or un-fathered.