Praying to Our Father in Heaven
“Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’ And he said to them, ‘When you pray, say: Father.’ ”- Luke 11:1–2a
When Jesus saw merchants and money changers preventing Gentiles from praying in the temple, He got righteously angry and cleansed the Gentile court of commerce that got in the way of true worship (Mark 11:15–17). Indeed, God is looking for people from every nation who will pray to and worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24), and He is not pleased when anyone presents a stumbling block before those who are seeking His face. But what does it look like to pray in spirit and truth? Jesus answers this question in the Lord’s Prayer. So that we may better understand this prayer, we are taking a break from our studies in Mark and following Dr. R.C. Sproul’s teaching series The Lord’s Prayer.
Today’s passage explains that our Savior gave the Lord’s Prayer to His disciples when they asked Him to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1–2a). Evidently, they saw a connection between His effectiveness in ministry and His prayer life, for Jesus was known as a man of prayer who often went off by Himself to commune with God (Luke 5:16). Learning how to pray from Jesus Himself, therefore, is the best way to learn what it means to pray effectively.
The Lord’s Prayer can—and should—certainly be prayed verbatim, but let us note that Christ gives it to us as a model. It shows us how to structure our prayers, and it reveals the various things we should be concerned with as we pray. We know this to be the case because Matthew’s account of the Lord’s prayer has Jesus saying, “Pray then like this” (Matt. 6:9).
Prayer, Jesus tells us, should begin with an address to our Father in heaven. Yes, we come to our God as His creatures and as the kingdom subjects over which He is sovereign, but in Christ, God is not a distant overlord. He is our Father who loves us and is concerned for us (Matt. 7:11). He wants to hear from us and desires fellowship with us just as good earthly fathers want such things from their children.
It is a distinct privilege to be able to call God “Father.” Contrary to the way that many people both inside and outside the church understand things, not everyone on earth has God as their Father. Only those who receive Christ by faith alone have the right to be called the children of God, which means that all who reject Jesus are not God’s children (John 1:9–13). Because God is our Father in Christ, He is our Protector and Provider. Addressing Him as Father, we can trust in Him to satisfy all our needs.
Our earthly fathers are sinners, so they fail us in many ways. Some do so in only minor ways, while others fail to protect and provide for their children in major ways. But our Father in heaven cannot fail us. He loves His children perfectly, and we can be assured that He will always protect and provide for us perfectly. Go before God in prayer today, knowing that He loves His children in Christ and will meet their needs.
Passages for Further Study
1 John 3:1a