Part 1.

Our Father.

For Christ followers the world over, the “Lord’s Prayer” is probably the most important prayer and one that is also known off by heart by many of those who don’t follow Christ.

The prayer in it’s long original form as taught by Jesus can be found Matthew’s book.  The “New International Version” of the bible translates it as this:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.

For some reason, I’ve got it in me to chew over what this prayer means to me.  I figure on breaking it down into chunks and doing several articles about it.  I’ve no idea why.  If this is interesting to you, feel free to comment and chip in your tuppence worth.

Our Father in Heaven.  Your name is Holy*.

Whilst I’ve said this prayer many times for many reasons, it’s these opening lines which I maybe give the least attention to in my rush to get to the ‘good stuff’ later on.  It’s these opening lines that are in fact the foundation for the whole prayer.

Who’s father? Our father.  The heavenly Father of all of us.  Not just the select few, not the do-gooders, not just the vicars, but all of us.  And of all the titles that Jesus wants us to use to address God, it’s Father.  Not Sir, not Lord, not Master but Father.  The actual word used by Jesus was “Abba”.  Not just Father, but the intimate “Daddy” from, the name used by an infant just learning to speak. It speaks of warmth, love, closeness and tenderness.

Yet at the same time His name is Holy.

His Name is holy. Sacred, sanctified, set apart, super-special, pure, perfect, spotless, a brilliant and blinding blazing white, hotter than the sun.  And yet, Daddy.

Can you feel the paradox?

The sticking point for many, and the risk taken by God, is that flesh and blood fathers are far less than perfect.  We have bad tempers and we often fail to show love properly.  For those just falling in love with Jesus, and those who have been with Him a longer time, this can be a difficult point.  For them, ‘Father’ represents something which is sometimes much less than holy and perfect.

Should that be you, let me remind you that the Father in Heaven referred to by Jesus is very different to your earthly father.  Even if he was a saint, he still had off days.

Jesus used words deliberately and precisely.  He used heavenly father on purpose.  As if to remind us of the difference between our imperfect earthly father and our perfect heavenly father, who’s name is Holy.

Getting the foundation right.

The more time I spend chewing over this opening to the Lord’s Prayer, maybe even repeating it a few times before continuing, it’s kinda like when I spend time chewing my food properly before swallowing it.  I got a good start in life by having two loving parents, so I haven’t got anything holding me back from identifying God as Father.  This means I can start from my own Dad’s example and extrapolate upwards from there, towards the Father God.  Who’s name is Holy and all which that means.

With this foundation firmly in place, I can move to the next part of the prayer:

your kingdom come,your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

That’s next time.

Are you with me so far?


 

* = “Hallowed by your name.”

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