April 3, 2012: The Thirty-Sixth Day of Lent
April 3, 2012 § Leave a comment
“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy name.'” ~ Matthew 6.9 ~
We have now come to the Lord’s Prayer. While this prayer might be quite familiar for us, we should (as with all Scripture) look at it in context. Christ has just taught his disciples about prayer guidelines. He assumes that they continue to pray as they have been taught, but he challenges their heart attitudes. Prayer has great value as part of the loving relationship between one and God; however, it should not be employed for showmanship and selfish gain.
Having said this, Christ gives his disciples a prayer. While some disagree on whether or not Christ intended this to be said verbatim or as a simple example of what proper prayer looks like, it remains clear that the prayer that Christ gives perfectly reflects an application of his previous teaching.
While the Greek uses the more formal pater for “Father,” Shelton thinks that Jesus would have been preaching in Aramaic. This means that Christ could have used the more familiar term, abba, for “Father.” This term is similar to “papa” or “daddy” in English. How amazing it is that Christ’s disciples can use such familiar language when speaking to their creator! This underscores that Christ has been teaching in the previous verses: proper prayer is found in a loving relationship between oneself and God. Christ’s disciples have the privilege of calling God the Father, “Daddy.”
Yet, as Christ says, this intimate, familiar name is holy; it is set apart for a specific use. Christ’s followers should not take this wonderful closeness lightly. In Jewish culture of the time, God’s name could not be separated from God’s person. If Christ’s followers abuse the privilege of addressing God the Father by name, they abuse God the Father himself. Shelton says, “Although Christians have been given the intimate and familiar right to address God as Abba, they do not do so presumptuously, for even that familiar name is sacred. He is not an overindulgent parent; as it has been said, ‘God is your Father, not your grandfather!'” (LinSNTC, pg. 166)
Yet, what a wonderful privilege has been granted to Christ’s disciples: to enjoy a loving relationship with the Creator of the universe. This relationship is a big deal, and we should treat it accordingly. This teaching challenges us to consider our own relationship in prayer with the Father. Are we flippant? Are we afraid? Christ tells us that prayer is to be found in loving relationship with God.
Lord Christ, help me to pray. I want our relationship to grow into the relationship that Christ has been talking about – one of love. Help me to embrace you as a father. Amen.