By Ryan Shaw
Our Father In Heaven
From the beginning of the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:9-15, Jesus guides us to posture ourselves before the greatest Father who has ever lived. We are drawn into a deeper revelation of who God is at His essence. This is always the beginning point of true prayer.
To begin seeking God in prayer from any other foundation leads to a skewed understanding of God and of prayer. Right prayer comes from a right view of God.
With a wrong view of God prayer takes on many unintended results. It can be boring, we can misinterpret the way God answers or the delay in an answer, we can simply endure the prayer process gritting our teeth instead of enjoying the journey with a loving Father and the potential list of negative results goes on.
One of the greatest ways we enhance our prayer lives is by rightly adjusting our view of the One we are in dialogue with. A low view of God is the primary problem among disciples as we approach our prayer lives.
In the prayer itself, Jesus seeks to raise our vision of the greatness of God. To accomplish this He highlights two central points of who God is. Neglecting one or an over-emphasis on the other leads to prayer lives being founded on a low or outright wrong view of God.
First, Jesus is revealing His Father and ours as tender and personally involved in every area of life. We respond with abandon to this God of love who prizes me so much that He voluntarily sent His own Son to suffer in our place for the penalty we deserved.
This is love without bounds and we internalize in our prayer lives the goodness, kindness and mercy God has as Father to us. It is love that is willing to go to the utmost lengths for our good. He is moved with affection toward us.
Jesus’ instruction to relate to God in this way speaks of the affection He has for us and that we, as trusting children, are to have for Him. He has our best interests at heart. Even beyond what we think is best for us, the Father knows better.
Second, as Father who is “in heaven,” Jesus reveals God’s majesty, indescribable glory and the far surpassing greatness of who He is. As the One who dwells in heaven He is awesome in every way, completely “Other” then all we may conjure up in our finite minds about Him.
There is no blemish and nothing except pure holiness and absolute perfection about Him. He is supreme in His intimate knowledge of us as our very creator and this elicits a response of surrender as we see how superior He is and conversely how needy we really are. Our lives are from Him and for His glory and are completely sustained by Him alone.
Because He is my loving “Father” I can lay all I am before Him in trust and confidence. Because He is infinite and exalted “in heaven” and I am finite and weak in and of myself, I can direct my prayer and my life unto Him.
If God is “heavenly” then I need to free myself from the wrong thoughts of the world and ascend in my spirit to where He is, completely separated from all sin and self-absorbed living. Colossians encourages us to set our minds and hearts on that which is from above.
We seek Him in heaven and so must get rid of all prayer that is earthy, worldly and void of that which is truly heavenly.
As true disciples of the Kingdom we want to openly ask, seek and knock the Holy Spirit to reveal layers and increasing revelation concerning God in these two ways. We ask Him to teach us more about this revolutionary relationship which has been purchased for us by the very blood of Christ.
Doing so keeps our hearts and spirits stirred and hungry. When God reveals to us deeper understanding and we apply that to our relationship to Him, great spiritual encouragement proceeds.
It is common for disciples to overlook this foundation of rightly relating to God as caring Father and the transcendent and glorious One, when considering the “Lord’s Prayer.” We quickly move forward toward having our needs met or laying hold of spiritual breakthrough in my ministry, etc.
These are important elements for sure. But without the proper foundation in our right view of God, and having this view consistently deepening and unveiled to us by the Holy Spirit, we will not approach the six requests in this prayer correctly.