“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven…'” (Matthew 6:9a NIV)
This prayer that Jesus taught his disciples appears in two places in the Gospels: in Matthew 6 in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and in Luke 11 in response to the disciples’ request to be taught.
In the Sermon on the Mount, we find Jesus teaching on life in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew’s way of referring to the kingdom of God.) Remarkably, life in God’s kingdom includes praying to God in familial terms.
So, here’s what we can say:
- Life with God is life in a kingdom.
- Life with God is life in a family.
If both of these statements are true, then let’s put them together. We are meant to live in the kingdom. But we are also meant to relate to the King as our Father. This means that we are meant to be part of the royal family rather than ordinary citizens in this kingdom. And if we are part of the royal family, then we are meant to share responsibilities of rulership.
And this is exactly what we find in the story of humanity’s creation in Genesis 1:26-28 (NIV):
“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.””
We are meant to rule as the children and heirs of the King! What a high and noble calling. Why do we settle for less?
So, we find in this address of God as “our father” the great vision of our dignity and purpose, as well as the divine reality that we are made for intimate relationship in prayer.
Prayer: God, your vision for our lives is so much greater than ours. Thank you for making us sons and daughters of you, the King of Creation. Grant that through our praying we may always love and serve you faithfully. Amen.