Inspiration

What You Should Know About Prayer

Prayer, while a simple thing in many ways, is also at the same time challenging for us.

Consider
the disciples who grew up praying in the synagogue. Even though they
had likely prayed their whole life and probably knew certain prayers in
the Bible by heart (such as those in the Psalms), they asked Jesus to
teach them how to pray. 

Perhaps they saw how he withdrew from them on a regular basis to seek
his Father in prayer. Perhaps they heard him pray, not in rote
memorization, but in belief, trust, and confidence. Perhaps they
witnessed firsthand the results of his prayers. 
Whatever their reasons for asking, Jesus did teach them to pray by giving them what we call the The Lord’s Prayer:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.a
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.” 

(Matthew 6:9-13)

For many believers, The Lord’s Prayer is
something we can recite in our sleep. Many of us learned it as child in
Sunday School. Some of us say it in church every Sunday. It’s also a
prayer that forms and shapes our personal prayers — using it as a model
to help us include the important elements of prayer such as praise,
confession, thanksgiving, and supplication.

Sometimes, when we
know something so well, we take it for granted. We recite it without
paying attention to the words. We overlook its meaning and significance.
When that happens, we need a fresh reminder of why we say it to begin
with.

In the case of The Lord’s Prayer, do we know how
significant it is that we get to pray that first line, Our Father in
Heaven? Do we understand the privilege of coming before God as our
Father and laying our requests before him?

GOD OUR FATHER 
Through
faith in Jesus’ perfect life, sacrificial death, and triumphant
resurrection, we are saved from sin. We are justified. God looks at what
Christ has done for us and declares us righteous. This is a legal act.
Upon our salvation, we are also brought into right relationship with
God. We are adopted into his family, the church. This adoption concerns
our relationship with God. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we can “with
confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy
and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

When
Jesus referred to God as Father in this prayer, it is translated as
Abba. It was the name Jewish children used to refer to their fathers.
Some compare it to our own children referring to their father as
“Daddy.” Because of our adoption as God’s children, we get to pray Our
Father. Just as our children can run to their own Daddy when they are
hurt, curl in his lap and find rest and comfort, praying Our Father
means the same for us. It is an intimate, familiar, and familial
reference. It denotes trust, security, and love. In praying, Our Father,
it reminds us of God’s great love for us. “See what kind of love the
Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God” (1
John 3:1).

To pray Our Father means that we have a familial
relationship with the God of the universe. The One who flung the stars
across the sky, who holds the earth in the palm of his hand, who
controls the wind and mighty oceans, is our Abba. He cares about every
detail of our lives, down to the number of hairs on our head. He hears
our every cry and knows our every need—before we even speak it.

J.I. Packer asserts that adoption “is the highest privilege that the gospel offers.” He wrote in Knowing God,
“Adoption is a family idea, conceived in terms of love, and viewing God
as father. In adoption, God takes us into his family and fellowship —
he establishes us as his children and heirs. Closeness, affection and
generosity are at the heart of the relationship.”

OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN 
Jesus
didn’t simply pray, Our Father, he qualified it with, “in heaven.” This
phrase tells us that our Father is in heaven. It reminds us that God
isn’t just any father, he is also the Sovereign God who rules and reigns
from his throne above. “The Lord has established his throne in the
heavens, and his kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:19). This means he
is far above and beyond any earthly father. He is a father who is holy,
perfect, right, and true.

Prayer is a privilege. How amazing it is that we get to come into our Father’s presence!

[written by Christina Fox]

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Tony Orji

Dr. Tony Orji is the founder and owner of Success Tonics Blog. He is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Economics, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

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