Over the next few days, the devotions will be focused on a common and frequently utilized prayer within the Christian community, the Lord’s Prayer. By examining the words found in this prayer, the opportunity to obtain a deeper understanding may be possible. This will enrich those times when we share in the prayer either as a community of faith or individually.
The most common source of words used in the Lord’s Prayer is found in Matthew 6:9b-13. A shorter version of these words are located in Luke 11:2-4.
“‘Our Father in heaven,Matthew 6:9b-13 (NIV)
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
Today’s focus phrase is: “Our Father.” In two short words, Jesus communicates much about the prayer he is teaching the disciples. Jesus’s use of the ward “our” communicates that this is intended to be a prayer of the community. This can mean that Jesus was sharing these words to be utilized as part of the community worship settings. Another possibility may be Jesus is communicating an aspect of God’s nature, God is God not of individuals but of a community of believers.
The second word, “Father,” places before us an insight into God’s nature. Referring to God as Father can be troublesome for individuals who have experienced pain associated with earthly father figures. The word here is used to encapsulate the characteristics of protection, providing, strength, guidance, teaching and support. Imagining these characteristics should evoke feelings of safety and security.
Starting the prayer with these words clearly places God in the center of the prayer and the community of faith’s life. It demonstrates a belief that God is the one who can, and does, provide for all our needs and security. The words remind us that we are part of a much larger entity than ourselves. As the two words are said, we declare that God is god of a multitude, not our own personal god.