Teach us to Pray (1)
“And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth” (Luke 11:2).
Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones once said that “prayer is beyond any question the highest activity of the human soul. Man is at his greatest and highest when, on his knees, he comes face-to-face with God”. To varying degrees and at different times in lifewe have all experienced the thrill of ‘face-to-face’communion with God. Yet often in our lives, and just like the disciples here, we need to be reminded and helped in this vital spiritual exercise. Today we say with them; “Lord, teach us pray” (v 1).
This first phrase addresses the Fatherhood of God and reminds us of the privilege of being his children. Never in the Old Testament did an individual address God as Father, this is unique to the dispensation of grace. Ever since the Lord Jesus told Mary “I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God and your God” (Jn 20:17), there has been a big shift in the relationship between God and man. Every Christian now enjoys a relationship with God that the Lord Jesus has enjoyed eternally. In Christ, we are as near to the Father as the Son, we are accepted in the beloved (Eph1:6) – we are accepted with all the acceptability of Christ. God’slove has been shed abroad in our hearts (Rom 5:5), we have received the Spirit of adoption and cry “Abba, Father” (Rom 8:15), we have been born of God (Jn 1:13)–what sublime blessing.
As our Father, we are to seek his pleasure and honour him; the children of God are to seek the interests of God. Society has this backwards, thinking that parents are to serve the children, and the demands of the children are to be met. However, God demands our worship – this is imperative. There is nothing that delights his heart more than to hear of his Only Begotten. This morning let us minister to the heart of God and present to him “the Son of his love” (Col 1:13, DBY), the One for whom he rent the heavens and cried “thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased” (Lk 3:22).
Which art in heaven
This phrase addresses the transcendence of God. The Lord Jesus wants us to learn that God is high, lofty and far above mortal man. Humanistic philosophy might place man at the pinnacle of the universe, but the Bible says differently–heaven is God’s throne and earth is his footstool (Ac 7:49); “all nations before him are as nothing … it is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers” (Is 40:17,22). As we bow in his presence do we appreciate that God is God? Are we filled with awe at the sheer excellence and highness of his being? Do we have a sense of the God-ness of God when we approach his throne?
Just as the stargazer sometimes looks up, wide eyed and dumbstruck at what he sees, so should our experience be of the transcendence of God. Often the stargazer gapes at the night sky, his mind reels as it fails to grasp the apparent infinitude of the universe, mouth ajar and lost for words he is resigned to sit in quiet wonder. What other reaction to such beauty? If this is our reaction to the creation, how much more to the Creator himself? Solomon grasped this when he said, “be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few” (Ecc 5:2). Awe-filled contemplation is a fitting response to the transcendence of God.
In a day and age when man thinks there is nothing higher than himself, and refuses to bend the knee, may we this morning bow before the One who “shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high” (Is 52:13). Let us remember that the man Christ Jesus has “passed through the heavens” (Heb 4:14) and he is “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come” (Eph 1:21).