What does the start of the Lord’s Prayer mean? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I’ve blogged before on the Lord’s prayer and it’s always interesting. Going through the Sermon on the Mount, this one cannot be missed. So let’s take another in-depth look at the Lord’s prayer.
Jesus starts off by telling us how we should pray. The prayer starts off with an address. The proper recipient is our Father. Okay. That sounds pretty basic. You start the prayer and you are talking to God.
Sounds basic, but it really isn’t.
Notice that Jesus at the start immediately assumes a communal activity. His followers were to come together and pray to God together. This is not to say that individual prayer can never happen. It is most certainly can. It is to say that Christianity is not meant to be experienced as an individual event.
Too often we have what is today Lone Ranger Christianity. Me and Jesus can just figure everything out today. I always go back to this story. It was a lady in a small group I was in once who said “I’m saved. My children are saved. Just sit back and wait for Jesus to come.” What an awful thought! How do you know your children will stay in the faith? What about other people and their children?
The community aspect is one thing, but there’s more. The community is to address God as Father. This is not some out there and distant deity. This is one who asks us to approach Him as if He is a parent. Jesus regularly makes this kind of analogy in the sermon and elsewhere.
This is also why Hebrews tells us to boldly approach the throne of grace. If you are the son or the daughter of the king, you ought not be afraid to approach the king. You belong there. You have been invited. You are a child of the king. Live like one.
Epictetus was a pagan philosopher who lived not too long after Christ. In his Golden Sayings, I find saying IX impressive. Change the language to a Christian language and see how it applies.
“If a man could be thoroughly penetrated, as he ought, with this thought, that we are all in an especial manner sprung from God, and that God is the Father of men as well as of Gods, full surely he would never conceive aught ignoble or base of himself. Whereas if Caesar were to adopt you, your haughty looks would be intolerable; will you not be elated at knowing that you are the son of God? Now however it is not so with us: but seeing that in our birth these two things are commingled–the body which we share with the animals, and the Reason and Thought which we share with the Gods, many decline towards this unhappy kinship with the dead, few rise to the blessed kinship with the Divine. Since then every one must deal with each thing according to the view which he forms about it, those few who hold that they are born for fidelity, modesty, and unerring sureness in dealing with the things of sense, never conceive aught base or ignoble of themselves: but the multitude the contrary. Why, what am I?–A wretched human creature; with this miserable flesh of mine. Miserable indeed! but you have something better than that paltry flesh of yours. Why then cling to the one, and neglect the other?
How much better could we see ourselves if we realized that we are adopted into the family. Remember Mephibosheth in the Old Testament? He was invited to feast at the King’s table, something the account says three times. Augustus Caesar was the most powerful man on Earth at one time, and got that way by adoption.
When we pray our Father, we are to realize that we are adopted into a royal family and we have that privilege. It is not just us individually, but us as a community. We all have the Father together and we can all come together as His children.