The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father In Heaven

Seth Garcia   -  

It is not uncommon that the things that are most simple can also be the most profound.   In fact, this is oftentimes the intention of simplistic mantras and prayers to allow us to ruminate, to meditate on the key aspects of our life and faith. 

In the same vein, the Lord’s Prayer is repeatable and simple, yet packed with deep and meaningful theology. As I said in my sermon a few weeks ago, we could easily pause in our Sermon on the Mount sermon series and do a series within the series going line by line through the Lord’s Prayer. So in this new newsletter series, that’s exactly what we’re going to do. 

The very first word of this prayer reminds us of a key truth of Christianity: there is no I within the entire text of this prayer. Even in this prayer, as Jesus is teaching his disciples how to pray in private, communal language still abounds. Too often, we act as though we are on the Christian journey alone, whether out of pride or loneliness; but Christianity cannot be done alone. It is about tying us to a journey together, about reconciliation of all things to Christ, and that means we are intrinsically connected in that goal. Jesus’ ministry always had relationship at its center. 

Throughout his ministry, Jesus uses the term Father for God. Jesus was not the first to describe God this way, but the frequency with which he did it is unusual; it was almost Jesus’ exclusive title for God. But with the “our”, Jesus invites all people to view God as father. To paraphrase Anna Case-Winters, for those of us with good relationships with our fathers, it reminds us of the love that our fathers have for us; for those of us who do not have a good relationship with out fathers, God becomes the standard against which we hold all fathers. 

But the heavenly nature of our Father reminds us of something else profoundly important to who this Father is: God is not the father of one group of people, or of one area of the globe, but of everything in the heavens and in the Earth. If we are truly a monotheistic people (which I assume we are!) then we know that God is not competing for territory with a plethora of other deities and pantheons. The obvious conclusion, then, is that God is the parent of everyone. In the face of that reality, our tribalism begins to look quite petty and silly. 

Dissecting the Lord’s Prayer line by line can provide us important insight into why Jesus taught his disciples to pray this way. So over the next few weeks, I hope you’ll join us as we learn to pray as Jesus taught.