02. Our Father – Part 1


Our FatherIf we take the time to think about it the fact that God, the Creator of the universe, invites us to pray is a startling reality. And we are assured in Scripture that God always hears the prayers of His people. Therefore in the Psalms David confidently sang, “I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God.”[1] And in the New Testament, the apostle Paul encourages us to pray writing,

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication[2], with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6, 7)

So let’s return to the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ on how to pray.

In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, (Matthew 6:9)

Let’s stop right here and focus on the word “our.” Jesus Christ could have said, begin to pray in this manner: “Dear God” or “Almighty God” or even “Holy Father” or “My Father.” But Christ begins this model prayer with the plural pronoun “our.” And this reveals to us a profound truth. When you pray “Our Father” the plural pronoun “our” means that you are not praying alone. First and foremost, when you pray, you are calling on God your Father along with the Lord Jesus Christ. Galatians 4:6 declares,

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” 

And Ephesians 2:18 tells us that,

For through Him [Christ] we both[3] have access by one Spirit to the Father.

In our prayers as well as in our life the Lord Jesus Christ is both or intercessor and our advocate.[4] This should be a great comforting truth to all of us. When I come before God in prayer I do not stand alone making a request based upon my own merits. Instead I stand before God and offer my prayer with the help of my Lord and Big Brother Jesus Christ. And together we say, “Our Father, hear our prayer.” According to Ephesians 1:6 (NKJV), we are “accepted” into the presence of Almighty God “in the Beloved”—Jesus Christ. Therefore when Christ teaches us to pray “Our Father” it means that He, the Beloved, is presenting our prayers to God. This is an exciting and wonderful reality!

Secondly, when we pray “Our Father” the plural pronoun “our” means that we are to think of ourselves and our prayers in the context of the family of God. Romans 12:5, teaches us that,

we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.

And 1 Corinthians 12: 25, declares that we “should have the same care for one another.”

The words “Our Father” calls us to be concerned about each one in the family of God. The words “I” or “me” are nowhere to be found in this prayer. The prayer says “Our Father,” “give us,” “forgive us,” “do not lead us, “ “but deliver us.”[5]

Yes, I can pray for my own needs and concerns. But my prayer life must not be about me alone. We can pray for our own needs and concerns, but our prayers must not start and stop with me alone. When I say “Our Father” I am admitting that I am not the only one in the world coming before God. To begin with an “Our Father” attitude of heart means that I am in fellowship with other believers who are my brothers and sisters. “Our Father” means that I care about you and your needs as much as my own. When we pray with an “Our Father” attitude of heart (because it is the heart that matters and not the mere words) then we are living out the command of Philippians 2:4 that says,

Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

We are all so very different: we are young, middle aged, old. We are male and female, black, white, Hispanic, Asian. We each have our own hopes and dreams and cares and concerns. But when we pray with an “Our Father” heart we are proclaiming that we are all one in Christ, that we are the family of God. We are proclaiming that we love one another and care for one another. When the Lord Jesus teaches us to pray with an “Our Father” attitude of heart He intends for us to understand that, #1 we do not go to God alone. We have access to God through and with the Lord Jesus Christ. And, #2 we belong to a family, with family needs and concerns. We are to care for one another and intercede for one another in our prayers.

Finally, the plural “Our Father” teaches us the importance and power of praying together as a church. United prayer brings the wisdom, power and comfort of God into the family of God. The book of Acts reveals this cleary. In Acts 1, after Jesus ascended to heaven the apostles and the disciples were united together in prayer.

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. 13 And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication,[b] with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. (Acts 1:12-14)

And the result of this united prayer was that the apostles were given wisdom in choosing to replace Judas Iscariot as an apostle.

“You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen 25 to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” 26 And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:24-26)

After Pentecost and the salvation of about three thousand people, the believers devoted themselves to prayers.

And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Acts 2:42)

And what was the result of their praying together as a church?

Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:43-47)

Later, peter and John were arrested for healing a lame man and teaching about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. After they were threatened and released they went back to the church and they all prayed.

And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said:

Why did the nations rage,
And the people plot vain things?
26 The kings of the earth took their stand,
And the rulers were gathered together
Against the LORD and against His Christ.’

27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. 29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” (Acts 4:23-30)

What was the result of this passionate, family prayer?

And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31)

In Acts 12, King Herod killed James, the Lord’s brother and then he put Peter in prison. But the church got together to pray.

Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. (Acts 12:5)

The result of their prayer was miraculous.

Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands. (Acts 12:7)

On one of his missionary journeys the apostle Paul and his companion Silas are put in prison. But instead of grumbling and complaining about why they were beaten and put in the stocks, they prayed together.

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.(Acts 16:25, 26)

Paul and Silas were united in prayer and they were set free. And the jailer and his family believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and received the gift of salvation.

Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.(Acts 16:29-34)

And finally, in Acts 20, on his last visit with the believers in Asia Minor, Paul called for the elders of the Ephesian church. He encouraged them to be strong in the faith. Then verse 36 describes their final act together.

And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him, 38 sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship. (Acts 20:36-38)

What a tender, sweet, loving picture this is! In summation here is what I hope we have learned. When we pray with an “Our Father” attitude of heart, we do not pray alone. We enter God’s throne room with our Lord Jesus Christ by our side. When we pray with an “Our Father” awareness, we pray with the family of God and for the family of God. When we pray with an “Our Father” commitment as a church, we are given divine wisdom, there will be signs and wonders, bold witnessing will take place, we will be set free and people will be saved. And last but not least there will be a sweet, tender love shared by one and all. This is what I desire for our church.

[1] Psalm 17:6

[2] The Greek word translated “prayer” is proseuche and refers to prayer offered to God having regard to His great power, while giving prominence to personal devotion. And “supplication” comes from the Greek deesis meaning a request concerning a specific personal need. In Byzantine Greek it was used of a written official petition.

[3] The Jew who believes in Christ and the Gentile who believes in Christ.

[4] Hebrews 7:25, 1 John 2:1

[5] Matthew 6:9, 11, 12, 13