Monday, October 23, 2017

2017-10-23 [Month of Mission 2017] A Kingdom Prayer - Our Father.

A Kingdom Prayer -- Our Father.

We now move from examples of the Kingdom to the Prayer of the Kingdom...

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.      (Matthew6:9-13)
In various religions it is customary to collect the names of the deity e.g. the "ninety-nine beautiful names" in Islam. Jesus' name for God here and throughout the Gospel accounts is strikingly simple and uncomplicated: "Father." Jesus spoke very intimately of "My Father" or absolutely of "The Father" or of "Your Father" to the disciples. Jesus tells Mary Magadlene to "go, tell the disciples that I am ascending to your God and to my God, to your Father and to my Father". But in this prayer, he speaks of "our Father." This is what the church confesses in its Creed: "I believe in Jesus Christ, his only (unicum) Son, our Lord." Jesus' relation to the Father is absolutely unique. He, and he alone, God's Son by nature; Christians are God's children by the grace of adoption, and all people are God's "children" in a certain sense, by creation. Jesus alone, is God's Son by right and he shares this status with us that we can call God our Father too and especially in prayer.
In the OT at Yahweh is not introduced (Ex.20:2; Dt.5:6) to Israel coldly as Yahweh the God but warmly as Yahweh your God. In a similar manner Jesus introduced God to the disciples at the Sermon on the Mount not coldly but with a tone of affection as our Father. Although he uses the Greek word "patêr" here, in his own prayers he often used the Aramaic word "abba" which is an intimate term for fathers used by children both young and old. Abba is a word for affection and love.
At the same time, the word "father" carries connotations of authority. The Father is the one responsible for the child: he is the child's progenitor and so its guardian, provider, and Head. The word, has elements of strength in it beyond its obvious tenderness.
The word "our" is significant because it turns even individual prayer into prayer for others. The Lord's prayer, right from it's beginning, is an intercessory prayer. The "our" teaches us that when we address God as our Father we address Him on behalf of all the rest of us, too. Jesus having made prayer private with his store room (v6), now makes prayer public with his "our." Barclay says "it is very significant that in the Lord's prayer the words, I, me, and mine never occur."

The "our Father" in the Lord's prayer will help in fighting classism. The Lord's prayer plants a democratizing time bomb in culture; it is both leveller and elevator. Approach the throne of God with this understanding that we belong to God and He is our Father who cares about our yesterday today and our tomorrow's needs and situations.
Christopher is husband to Rhoda, Father to Wanagwa (19), Kondwani (19) and Wongani (11), minister at David Livingstone Memorial Presbyterian Church in Livingstone Zambia and enjoys serving the Lord in the UPCSA.

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