“And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.” Luke 11:2
Prayer begins when we realize who it is that we approach, and what our relative relationship to Him is. The epistle to the Hebrews puts it this way,
“Without Faith it is impossible to please Him, for those who come to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of those who seek him…” (Hebrews 11:6)
Thus the opening of the Lord’s prayer, (the invocation) is given to us in simple and spare Words, but which would take an eternity to unpack. Saphir makes this comment ;
“Let this first impression remain the deepest and most prominent. God wishes to fill our hearts with childlike confidence and love, that we may approach him, to use Luther’s expression,’as dear children to their dear Father.” ( Lord’s Prayer, Saphir, Adolph)
With this opening, “Our Father…” we address the LORD of the Universe as Father. This opens to us the application of an entire theology of the Fatherhood of God. God is the Father of those who believe in Jesus. He has adopted us and given us the Spirit of adoption.
From new birth on, the primal cry of the new Christian is “Abba, Father!”. We who are saved cry out to God instinctively as “Father” even if we do not know anything else to say. We have been brought into the family, by Jesus himself, who is the “only begotten” Son of God, and who is never ashamed to call us ‘brothers’.
For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.( Hebrews 2:11-12)
We know that in the crucifixion of Jesus, the veil of the temple was ripped from top to bottom, thus signifying, that Heaven has been opened to us, and that we who believe have access to it. So we pray, “Our Father who art in Heaven…”. This prayer leads us directly into heaven, where we have an audience with the Father.
We acknowledge as the book of Ecclesiastes teaches us, that God is above us and we are here below (for the present),
Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. (Ecclesiastes 5:2)
True prayer is also a constant “upward look”, for in it we are lifting our eyes and hopes and even our affections to God in Heaven. Man alone among all creatures is spiritual, ie he has the ability to “look up” in that sense, and to commune with God. It is sin which strips us of the ability to do so, and instead turns our gaze downward into sorrow, fear, self absorption, depression and guilt.
A German Pastor, writing shortly after the catastrophe of the First and Second World Wars made this observation, in his book, called “The Lord’s Prayer”, about looking up to God in heaven
“At any rate no other generation within living memory has looked up to heaven by day and by night as we have.(Speaking of the terror of air raids and bombings). Strange though it may seem, it is a long time since this generation was afraid of what comes from above, and we had long ago forgotten what it was like to long for help from above.
Does it not give us food for thought that this ‘heaven-less generation” who had only a superior, pitying smile left for the blessing that comes from above, come to fear that they should expect death or life from above, whether they wanted to or not?
But in view of the rediscovery of the heavens beyond us, we cannot suppress the quiet wish: If only this generation would reach the stage of rediscovering the real Heaven. Not the sky of the night fighter, and the death laden bomber, but the heaven of Angels, the Heaven of God, the Heaven of the Ascension,that heaven that Christ means when He teaches us to pray: “Our Father, who art in Heaven…” (The Lord’s Prayer, Luthi Walter)
Our generation also has forgotten to look up to heaven. We think we are too advanced in our technology and so called progress in the humanities to look up for help from above. Ironically ours is also a “fatherless” Generation, religiously speaking.
But the Words of Jesus are addressed to this generation as well as to any other, that we too, must again look up to God as Father, in heaven, as our fathers did in olden times.
Also, We must see that our problems are so profound that there can be no earthly, man centered answer to them, the answer must come from above, and outside of us. Heaven alone can help us!
The simple words given us by Jesus, in which to address God, as Father, also teach us that there is a sanctuary above us, a Holy place, the dwelling place of God, which has been opened up to us. There is a throne there, but it is a throne of Grace and Mercy and surely we will find our help there, in the time of need.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. ( Hebrews 4:16)