My favorite time of the day, next to being with Jesus in the morning, is coming home at the end of a long day, opening the door and seeing my son run around the corner to me, nearly falling over, with a big smile on his face and his hands up in the air and jumping into my arms. It is the best feeling in the world. He just makes you feel like a million dollars. It’s a moment I look forward to everyday. When this happens, I’ve already anticipated his needs. He wants to play. He needs to eat. His diaper needs to be changed or he needs a bathe. All of which I’m ready to do for him, because he is my son and I love him. However, before any of those things happen, he runs to me and hugs me with his whole being, as if to say, “I love you daddy. Lift me up a little higher.” You could say that my son adores me.
Jesus used this same imagery to teach His disciples how to approach God in prayer. In Luke 11:1, Jesus is seen praying to the Father by His disciples. By this point they have already connected His daily power in ministry to His alone time communing with His Father. However this time they are so deeply moved by how Jesus prays that they say, “Lord, teach us to pray…” Luke 11:1a. They are so captivated by what they see in Jesus as He talks to His Father that they in essence are saying Lord teach us how to pray like that! And what Jesus begins to share with them is only a repeat of what they have already heard from Him. Ellen White, commenting on this scene, says this… “The Lord's Prayer was twice given by our Saviour, first to the multitude in the Sermon on the Mount, and again, some months later, to the disciples alone… Jesus gives them no new form of prayer. That which He has before taught them He repeats, as if He would say, You need to understand what I have already given. It has a depth of meaning you have not yet fathomed.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing P. 102-103. So let’s take the trip back a few months earlier in the ministry of Jesus to the place of this famous sermon on the mount. For it’s there that we’ll find two life changing principles on how to approach God in prayer.
The ministry of Jesus and His message of the Kingdom had come to a fever pitch in Galilee. And after spending all night in prayer, Jesus goes to the top of a mountain over looking the Sea of Galilee and officially selects 12 disciples. By the dawn of the next day a multitude of people from all over the surrounding region had come to a hillside waiting in expectation for some announcement to be made about the kingdom. It is here that Jesus goes to the top of the mount, like a new Moses type figure and instructed His disciples and the multitude about the true nature of His Kingdom. It’s in this context that Jesus teaches about prayer. In Matthew chapter 6:5, He first teaches them how not to pray. But then in verse 9, He launches into what has become known as the Lord’s Prayer. As Jesus is here about to teach His disciples the manner in which they should pray, it would be more accurate to call this “The Disciple’s Prayer.” And here is how it begins…
The prayer begins with “Our…” which implies that it was intended to be a corporate prayer, prayed by disciples that were gathered together. And though prayed corporately it applies to each individual specifically, especially as seen in some parts of the prayer. However, the “Our” also reveals that Jesus, as the Son of Man, is identifying with humanity. Hebrews 2:11 tells us that He is not ashamed to call us brethren. Through Christ, we are adopted as children of God and He encourages us to call His Father our Father. This becomes even more interesting when you understand how people prayed during this time. Psalm 28:2 says, “Hear the voice of my supplications When I cry to You, When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.” Then Paul says in 1Timothy 2:8, “I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting…” When people prayed in bible times they often lifted there hands like a child to their father. This was the posture of God’s children in prayer. And Jesus reveals God’s posture towards us several times in this sermon, by repeating “Father in Heaven” in various forms, usually depicting God as a father that is just ready to give his children what they need. What Jesus is telling us is that…
Prayer Begins with Child-like Adoration of the Father
My son loves to come to me, jump in my arms and start to talk. Oh, he’s not saying many words, but his favorite thing to call me is “abba.” Before, when he saw me he would say “ba ba.” But now daddy is “abba.”
When Jesus says “Our Father…” the word there for Father in the original language is “Abba.” It literally means “Daddy.” This implies that there is a child-like intimacy with the Father. There is a relationship. He is your Father in Heaven, which means He is majestically glorious and far away, high above everything in creation; the Most High. Yet He is your Daddy, intimately close and relationally personal. Are you hearing what Jesus is inviting us into? The Divine King of the universe is your dad and you are to come to Him in pray adoring Him, which means to worship Him, like a child comes to their “Abba”, their daddy.
What is striking is what Jesus didn't say to call God. He didn’t say call Him Divine Ruler. He didn’t say call Him eternal Judge. He didn’t even say to call Him sovereign God of the universe. You know, like how some people like to pontificate when they start their prayers. All of which are wonderfully true. But when He wanted to teach you how to pray, He said to begin by adoring Him as Daddy.
Now I’m aware that for some people this may be hard to do. To relate to God as Father or Daddy is difficult for some, because they didn’t grow up with a father around. Or their father was abusive. And when children grow up they usually develop their first picture of what God is like from their earthly father and for many that is not a pleasant experience. For me, my father was not a regular part of my life for most of my life. Now I love my father and we still talk on the phone to this day, but he wasn’t around face to face on a regular basis both before my parents were divorced and after. When I was baptized he wasn’t there. I could have grown up thinking of God as an absentee Father. Yet, when I started to develop a relationship with Him, He stepped in and started to be Father to me. He began to show me what a true father looks like and how they should act. And for those of you who may have had a negative experience with an earthly father, to you, God seeks to make a sharp contrast. He wants to reveal to you that He is not like your earthly father, but far far more.
And now Jesus wants to reveal to us, in the next part of the verse, that if you get to know your Divine Daddy for who He truly is, you will want to adore Him. Verse 9 continues…