Friday, January 19, 2007

The Lord's Prayer-Our Father

We ought to pray the Lord's prayer, if for no other reason, than to begin it. For it begins so wonderfully, Pater, Father. In english we say 'Our' first. Not so in the Greek. Father comes first. The beginning of this prayer says much. We speak to God as Father. Not just any father, not somebody's father, but Our Father. Is this not wonderful?

I understand for some of you that it is NOT wonderful. You cannot imagine the joy, fear, reverance, strength, kindness, mercy, grace, gladness, and peace of father. Maybe only fear and strength stand out to you. But that is not our God, that is not our Father.

Our Father is the prodigal's father. He watches for such wretched sons and daughters as we are to return from our revels. He longs to grant forgiveness and with forgiveness reconcile us to Himself. To say Father is to admit that He is over us and that we are at His mercy. But we also appeal to His mercy for He is Our Father. Mercy is His business. Where sin abounds, even among God's children, grace does much more abound. So, when we sin and know that we have done ill, we should not shrink from God, but run to Him. He is Father. He is safety.

When my children were young, I often played Tiger with them. I would chase them, growling, roaring, pawing, scratching. They knew that I was father but they were also afraid of Tiger. At around 18-24 months old, the children could not quite grasp how much was just fun and how much was really dangerous. Sometimes, when Tiger dad was exceptionally effective, the toddler child would be terror stricken. This is where we begin to understand father from a child's perspective. What is a terrified child to do? To run is too scary. Tiger will catch me from behind. To stand still means instant death. Perhaps dad really is Tiger and will kill me. But, maybe, Tiger really is dad and will save me. After this complex thought process the child makes the right decision. Run to Tiger. Run to dad. Run to father.

It is only when we will not say Our Father, that we must tread in real fear of Him. Jesus said, Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. (Matt 10:32-33)

If we will not call God Our Father, then we deny true brotherhood with the Son and Jesus will not vouch for us before the Father. When we pray Our Father, we make ourselves out to be brothers and sisters of Jesus. This evokes God's pleasure towards us just as He is always pleased with His beloved Son.

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