9 This, then, is how you should pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV)
Most people in the western hemisphere have at least a passing familiarity with The Lord’s Prayer. It’s recited each week in numerous churches, and many of us memorized it as children. The Lord’s Prayer is both familiar and comforting to many people. But, when Jesus first gave this prayer to His followers, they probably thought it was revolutionary.
The Old Testament rarely refers to God as Father. By contrast, Jesus almost always addressed God as Father. Referring to God with such a familiar, intimate term would have shocked many of Jesus’ followers. And then He told them to do the same when they prayed!
Jesus is telling us that we can and should address God with a familiarity and intimacy reserved for a beloved father. We don’t need to be afraid of God because He truly is our Heavenly Father who loves us, cares for us, and provides for our needs. Rather, we can approach Him with the confidence and eagerness of a child approaching a Father whom they know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, loves them and has their best interests in His heart.
Have you ever thought that you could approach God in the same way as you approach an earthly father who truly cares for you? Do you believe that He loves you and wants you to come to Him with your requests?
The next time you pray, start your prayer with the words, “Our Father in Heaven.” But, don’t just say the words, let them sink into your heart and mind. Approach God with the assurance that He loves you and wants to hear what you have to say.