On Sunday Graham continued his series on the Prayers of the New Testament, speaking about the Lord’s Prayer.
Prayers of the New Testament, Part 2
Father in Heaven
The Doctrine of the Fatherhood of God
When I was studying theology at college I remember an essay question that I had to do outlining the doctrine of the fatherhood of God. They wanted us to note that the fatherhood of God is expressed in creation, with Israel and then, more fully, through the new birth for both Jew and non-Jew. This is a foundation truth that all believers should know.
Creation Malachi 2:10
Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?
The Hebrews Hosea 11:1
When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
The Hebrews Isaiah 63:16
For you are our Father,
though Abraham does not know us,
and Israel does not acknowledge us;
you, O Lord, are our Father,
our Redeemer from of old is your name.
The Hebrews Isaiah 64:8
But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Universal? Psalm 103:13
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
The disciples watched him pray. Did he pray out loud? As suggested last week, would they have heard him pray to his Father in heaven? If so, would they have heard an intimacy of language from the heart? It is worth noting that they way Jesus addressed his father was preserved in the record in the Aramaic language – Abba.
“Our Father” or just “Father”. Corporate or personal?
The fatherhood of God was not new, but previously had it been mainly merely doctrinal? Had the sense of relationship been lost?
To use “Father” is:
It reflects a decision to bow before God. It declares that we are not superior, but God is. It is positioning ourselves as the creature and not the creator. The child, not the father. The one in need and dependant kneeling before the one who is the source of all things.
What is God like? How great? How beyond?
Coggan calls it “astrological intimidation”. He describes the discoveries of the universe and how we can feel small in comparison. He says a creator God could merely be an “it” but not a father. As Father he is being described as a person with emotion and a commitment to his offspring.
We place ourselves in the context of standing alongside the great Father. We humble ourselves as a child.
3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
In the years that followed, the Christians just wouldn’t let this word go – “Abba! Father!”
This is not merely the next phrase in his prayer but it adds so our understanding to the use of the word “Father”. When we use this, we are not past the salutation and are worshipping. When I pray this I feel I am relocated into the heavenly realms (wherever that is).
See Revelation 1:9-11
9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”
I don’t feel God has come to me. I feel I am transported to God’s place. I come as a worshipping sinner having access because of Jesus.
Last week I had referred to the practice of Jesus to take moments apart to spend time in prayer. I again encourage this. If you are new to this or out of practice I suggest you use a timer.
Use these words, “Father in Heaven”. Repeat them, meditate on them. Use them in your praying.