Martin Luther remarked that if he could fully comprehend the first two words of the Lord’s Prayer and pray those words boldly, the rest of his Christian life would fall into place. How about you? How are you with praying “Our Father”? What difference do you think it might make for you as you pray the rest of The Lord’s Prayer? What difference do you think it might make in your Christian life to talk to Father like Jesus talks to Him?
Luther acknowledged that he had difficulty in praying those first wondrous words because they made him think of his earthly father, who had been so harsh and unloving. As a pastor and chaplain, I talk with many who project onto God their feelings about an earthly parent. Thus, they approach God in prayer with anger, fear, guilt, even indifference. But Jesus told a marvelous story about a father in order to forever redefine how we might think of God as our Father. Jesus told of a father of a no-good, worthless prodigal in order to shatter every idea of Hebrew patriarchy, taking us far beyond how we might ever expect a father to behave. Jesus told this story so that we might joyfully, confidently join Him in praying, “Our Father”.
What’s more, God the Father even sent the Holy Spirit to make His home in us, urging us to boldly address God as, “Our Father”. The apostle Paul writes concerning this, “And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Galatians 4:6). God so longs for us not to hold back but boldly go to Him even as Jesus does. “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:15-16). The work of the Holy Spirit is to take all that belongs to Jesus and make it ours as sons and daughters of Abba Father.
The Holy Spirit urges us to call God, “Abba”, an Aramaic word Jewish children called their fathers, meaning “daddy”. Abba was a word that Jesus was fond of in talking to Father. Abba expresses the intimacy and boldness with which the Holy Spirit urges us to begin our prayer today. It is significant that Greek speaking Christians, who did not know a word of Aramaic, were quick to follow Jesus in addressing God as “Abba! Father!” It is with confidence and assurance that we begin to pray as Jesus teaches us: “Our Father…”
PRAY THE LORD’S PRAYER (Morning-Noon-Night)