Lots of Christians use a prayer where they talk to a God which they call “Father”.
“Our Father, which art in heaven”
This first line from “The Lord’s Prayer” used to be one of the best known in the New Testament. Today it is much less frequently repeated. But even at the height of its use, it is to be feared that the term “Father” was used in a conventional sense without much thought about its implications.
In Old Testament times God had already revealed Himself as a “Father”.
“Israel is my son, my firstborn” (Exodus 4:22)
was His declaration to Pharaoh in Egypt. Through the long centuries of their experience the faithful appreciated the relationship:
“Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13-14).
“your heavenly Father”.
The infinite grace of God, so dear to the psalmists and prophets, was shown in the giving of His Son as the atonement for sin. And so the faithful are granted a new relationship with God, in which they are not only “heirs with Christ” but “sons and daughters of God”. John exclaims:
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God: and such we are” (1 John 3:1, R.V.).
But in these days of casual familiarity it is easy to slip into the habit of thinking of God, and indeed even addressing Him, as “one of us”. Jesus kept his priorities clear at all times, and particularly in his prayers.
“I thank thee, 0 Father, Lord of heaven and earth” (Matthew 11:25)
warns us that although God is truly our Father, He remains “Lord of heaven and earth” and should be worshipped as such. Twice in his prayer for the disciples shortly before his crucifixion, he addresses God direct:
“Holy Father … 0 righteous Father” (John 17:11,25).
There is no familiarity here, but a profound recognition of this “otherness” from man.
Similarly the Apostle Paul, quoting from the Law and applying the saying to the believers in Corinth, urges them to “come out” and “be separate” from the idolatrous worship and practices in Greek society. God promises them,
“I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters”;
but Paul does not hesitate to complete the quotation,
“saith the Lord Almighty”,
and to go on to urge his readers to cleanse themselves
“from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God”,
that is, in reverent worship (2 Corinthians 6:17-7:1).
And in the prayer Jesus taught his disciples he addressed God as:
“Our Father, which art in heaven” (Matthew 6:9).
God is indeed a Father to the faithful, showing all the care and concern that a father would feel for His children. But those “sons and daughters”, while appreciating His grace and mercy towards them, must never presume to forget the reverent worship which is His due. This balanced attitude is severely threatened in our times of freedom of expression and human rights. The Bible alone enables us to preserve that balance.
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- Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26
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- Fridge Worthy Quotes about Being a Child of God
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- Teach Us to Pray
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- Our Father Thinking about the prayer many people know as the ‘Our Father’ as I meditated this morning.
- Jewish Influence in the Lord’s Prayer
- How to Pray
- Living our Faith: Prayer
- Daily Mass: The Lord teaches us to pray. Catholic Inspiration
- The Lord’s Prayer (tangentially in the Narrative Lectionary for 10/28)
- October 10, 2018 – Wisdom, God’s Will, and the Lord’s Prayer – Proverbs 19:20-21, Matthew 6:5-13, Luke 11:11-13
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- quote: on the Lord’s prayer
- Psalm 18:1-24
- A Simple Way to Pray:
- The Lord’s Prayer for SocietyThe Antidote for Anxious, Fearful Hearts
- Thursday: Morning Prayer
- The mechanics of prayer: When The Prayers You Make Make You
- From adoption to worship to sanctification to glory
- Unlock your creativity through the Lord’s Prayer
- The Lord’s Prayer – “US”
- What Does Faith Guarantee?
- You Are God’s Temple
- I Am a Child of God
- What does it mean to be a child of God?