Our Father in heaven

John A. Braun

“Our Father in heaven.”

How often have you said those words? How often have you said them without thinking what a marvelous truth Jesus taught us? Each of the petitions of this prayer gives us something important to ponder.

I want to spend a few months thinking through what the Lord’s Prayer means for us as Christians and specifically how we can pray this prayer for our needs as a church. My reason is that first word “our.”

Jesus taught his disciples that this prayer included them all together. They asked him to teach them how to pray. Then with the first words of the prayer, he invited them to consider they shared a Father in heaven together.

Most often when I pray the Lord’s Prayer, I pray it personally and think, My Father in heaven. That’s okay because it has much I need to bring to my Father in prayer.

Yet, I should not forget the words Jesus used. It starts with that word “our.” When we gather in worship, we speak the prayer together. Jesus encouraged me to look down the pew at the people who are saying the prayer with me as well as those in the pews in front of me and behind me. We address our Father together.

I think that little word “our” is significant because it reminds me that I’m not the only one in the Lord’s church. Peter was not alone, nor were any of the other disciples. Even later when they went their separate ways to share the gospel with all nations, they were part of the Lord’s church. The Holy Spirit brought new people to faith in Jesus who together would begin their prayers, “Our Father.” In another way, even when they were separated there was still the “Our Father.” A thousand miles away, Christians were saying the Lord’s Prayer. They were in his church and part of the “our” of communion and fellowship with each other.

Believers, the church of Christ, often said this little prayer together over the centuries, just as Jesus taught it. Sometimes the words tumble from lips of family, friends, or a pastor gathered together around a bedside. At other times we mumble them together when facing great trials. “Our Father.” We are not alone. Certainly, our Lord is with us, but this is a reminder that so are other Christians. Together we pray for each other.

Jesus wants our prayers to be addressed to our Father. Luther reminds us that our relationship with God is the relationship of an ideal tender father with his dear children. God’s love has removed what makes us rebellious and infuriating. He sent his perfect Son, Jesus, to be our substitute. Our Father sees us as brothers and sisters of the One whose blood atones for our rebellion. Our Father loves us and wants us to bring our cares and concerns to him in our prayers.

Jesus adds that our Father is “in heaven.” These aren’t just words to fill a sentence or address! No, our Father is powerful and understands our challenges. He does not sit in heaven oblivious to what happens here and unable to help us. He listens and has the power to help in every need and every situation.

And the world seems to spin out of control. We all sense it happening. We are concerned about the believers we know from our regular worship and the believers we read about worldwide. Jesus encourages us to take those concerns to “our Father.” What a wonderful opportunity to pray for each other as dear children, brothers and sisters together.

John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 104, Number 7
Issue: July 2017

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