Our Father in Heaven
Apparently, women enjoy spending time in conversation with each other. We have so many opportunities: a phone call, text, or email keep us in touch instantly. Sharing the joys and woes of life with a coffee lightens our day. A card or letter means someone has taken thought and time to share with us.
Prayer, in its simplest form, has been described as a conversation with God. Jesus’ disciples had watched him spending time in prayer, often alone. Perhaps they thought it was something special that had to be learnt. They asked Jesus, “Lord teach us to pray”. Jesus’ reply is recorded in Matthew 6:9–13 and Luke 11:2–4 and is described by Luther as the “most excellent of all prayers”.
Jesus invites us to call God, our Father. Addressing our prayers to God, just as children ask an earthly loving father and confidently expect an answer, truly reminds us we are God’s children in faith through baptism. Jesus also tells us that he is, our Father in heaven, Lord overall. Paul writes in Ephesians 3:20 (NLT): Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Prayer is not only a chat with our God, but it is also an act of worship as we acknowledge him as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He deserves our praise and thanksgiving not only our long list of requests.
David, in Psalm 19, begins with a description of God’s creative power and closing with these words of humble invitation: May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. We bring to our Father our needs, those of our neighbours, and the world both spiritual and physical, assured that he will hear and answer.
The answers to our prayers are not always to our liking, but they are to God’s glory. Our requests should not be for foolish and hurtful things, nor should they prescribe time or place, neither how it should happen. Our Father is quite specific in his answers to those prayers which are YES, NO or WAIT A WHILE, so we add the proviso which Jesus added as he prayed in Gethsemane, If you are willing, dear Father, never the less not my will but yours be done. The prayers which our Father in heaven always answers with an unconditional YES are requests for spiritual blessings necessary for our salvation.
Forgiveness of sins, growth in faith, understanding of his Word, the gifts of the Spirit to support our daily life will bring the Holy Spirit rushing to our aid when we request these in Jesus’ name. Prayer is much more than just a conversation with God. Conversations with our friends may be deep, caring and lighten our hearts with warm fuzzies for a time, but they are nothing compared to the peace that passes all understanding we find when we spend time in prayer with God.
Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.
Matthew 6:9b–13 (NLT)