Matthew 6:9 Our Father in heaven.
Jesus had just finished praying when one of his disciples said, Lord, teach us to pray (Luke 11:1). He probably noticed that Jesus had power in prayer, and he wanted to learn his secret. Jesus began by teaching us to call God, Our Father.
To call God Father is to believe in him as the one who gives life, love, provision, protection, and even his nature. This idea appears vaguely in the Old Testament, but was developed by Jesus Christ, and then by his apostles. The implications are profound.
[T]he Father himself loves you (John 16:27). [Y]our Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32). [Y]our Father in heaven [will] give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him (Luke 11:13). [T]he righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matthew 13:43). See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1).
The most moving portrait of the heavenly father was given by Jesus Christ in his story of the Lost Son. [W]hile he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him (Luke 15:20). Who would have thought that God was so affectionately in love with sinners that he would run to embrace and kiss them?
Through faith in Jesus Christ we come into a warm, loving and affectionate relationship with our heavenly Father. The devil will tell us differently; our emotions will tell is differently; and our circumstances will tell us differently. But God’s word is more reliable than any of these, and it tells us that we are dearly loved children of God, through faith in Jesus Christ.
A Christian scholar traveled the world teaching and preaching. After several weeks away, he returned home to see his baby girl, but was not sure that she would recognize him. They got into a staring match, for about a minute, when she suddenly realized who he was. Her face lit up, her arms shot out, and she nestled in his neck for the longest time.
In those few minutes I learned more about the meaning of life than in all the philosophy books I have ever read. The meaning of life is relationships (Ravi Zacharias), he said. This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven.
Matthew 6:9b [H]allowed be your name.
Donald Trump, Justin Bieber, Judas Iscariot, Albert Einstein, Oprah Winfrey. They each have a name, and a reputation. God also has a name, and he cares about his reputation. And since he is our Father, we should care about his reputation too.
I grew up in a small town with only a few big buildings. But on the way to the city, one day, I saw a large building with a man’s name at the top. I had not heard of the man, but he must have been important, since his name was at the top of a building. In my little boy dreams, I imagined becoming so successful, that one day, my name would be at the top of a building too.
But an interesting thing happened when I started reading the Bible. I found a verse that said, not to us but to your name be the glory (Psalm 115:1); and another that said, your name and renown are the desire of our hearts (Isaiah 26:8); and another that said, your name alone do we honor (Isaiah 26:13).
This idea was so important to the apostles that we barely remember their names. Peter, Andrew, James and John come to mind, but whatever happened to Bartholomew, Thaddeus, and those other guys?
They were so concerned about the name of Jesus Christ, that they did not even care about their own names. Self promotion never crossed their minds. If you want to examine your values, ask what matters most to you: your Father’s reputation or your own.
And if you care about your Father’s reputation you will be careful not to tarnish it. Hallowed be your name in my thinking. Hallowed be your name in my speaking. Hallowed be your name in my driving. Hallowed be your name in my parking. Hallowed be your name in my working. Hallowed be your name in my playing. Hallowed be your name in my saving. Hallowed be your name in my spending. In everything I am, and in everything I do, hallowed be your name.
Matthew 6:10 [Y]our kingdom come.
The kingdom of God is like a little seed that grows into a large plant (Matthew 13:31-32, paraphrased), said Jesus. What started out as a little group of believers, on the other side of the world, now has over two billion people. And whenever someone believes in Jesus Christ, the kingdom grows a little more. But the kingdom will not come in its fullness until the king returns in glory. At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory (Mark 13:26), said Jesus.
There is a school for the mentally challenged where they teach the children that Jesus will split the skies when he returns for them. The children are simple enough to believe it, and they smudge the windows every day looking for Jesus’ return. The custodians don’t like it very much because they have to clean the windows every single day. But who has more spiritual sense: those dear little ones, or smart people like us? You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him (Luke 12:40), said Jesus.
In the mean time, Jesus taught us to not only pray your kingdom come, but to seek first his kingdom (Matthew 6:33). We only succeed in life by identifying a single overriding objective, and making everything else yield to that objective. If your objective is to win a gold medal, your diet must yield to that objective; your leisure must yield to that objective; your bed time must yield to that objective; and your friendships must yield to that objective. God is looking for people who will not only pray your kingdom come, but will make it their main objective.
Reflection and Review
What does it mean to call God, Father?
How can we bring honor to God’s reputation?
Why should God’s kingdom be our first priority?