Lord, Teach Us To Pray: The Who of Prayer

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And He said to them, “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father, hallowed be Your name.'” Luke 11:2

When Jesus gave the primer on prayer, He started with a who.

All epic romances begin in such a way, do they not? There are two who’s, connecting and relating and sharing and communicating. Teaching and growing and laughing and weeping and loving.

And sustaining that relationship means coming together again and again.

The Great Romance of human history is akin, because it is the basis for all of our other relationships.

And so, we begin with the greatest Who.

“Our Father.”

Jesus teaches His disciples (that’s you and me!) that when we pray, we are communicating with our Father. In the Greek, the word used here is patḗr, which is One who gives life and committed to it, the originator. 1

This means a few things to us:

  1. The Creator, (God) gave us life.
  2. The Originator, (God) is the originator of our form: we are made in His image.
  3. As the Father, He is invested in each of our lives on an intimate level.

This is not a god who set the world like a top and walked away. He’s not just a sovereign King or a righteous Judge (though He’s also those things!).

The One we go to in prayer is a tender Parent who has mercy on His children. He is the Father who desires to correct because it is what is in the best interest of the child. He is the Father who wants to be adored and praised by those He has carefully crafted and invested in. (Doesn’t every parent?)

When we have a proper perspective of Who it is we are approaching in the sacred spaces of our heart, prayer flows like a river. Who is God? He is Creator, and we are not; this gives us perspective when we feel like God “owes us” or is being “unfair.” He is Originator and we are His image bearers; this means that we were designed with purpose: to know and love Him. He is our Father and we are His children; that means we are loved and have a place in His kingdom:

“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:15-17

So when Jesus says that God is “Our Father,” what He means is that God is Jesus’ and our Father. We get all the benefits that Jesus does as co-heirs with Him in the kingdom. God looks at us, cloaked in Jesus’ righteousness, and sees each of us as holy and beloved.

Walking into your proverbial prayer closet, knowing who you’re talking to and how He feels about you should do two things:

  1. It should stir your heart to worship and praise.
  2. It should cast out any fear so that you approach the throne of God with the same boldness of a child approaching her daddy. 2 (More on this to come!)

Jesus noted this as well in the next part of His instruction when He says,

“hallowed be Your name.”

To hallow something is to honor it as holy; to revere and respect or to highly venerate. Names are important (if you don’t think names are important, just try going around calling people by the wrong name for a day and see how irritated/hurt people get.)

When you hold someone in high respect, like a loved one, you speak well of them and to them. Grandparents will show everyone in a 100 mile radius pictures of their grandchildren and tell stories about their accomplishments.

Lovers will find a way to slip their partner’s name into everyday conversation.

Best friends will post one another’s feats of accomplishments on social media in a show of support and love.

We are built to appreciate. We are designed for worship and praise. And our Father in Heaven should be on the receiving end of those accolades when we pray. Not because He’s less God without our worship and praise:

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” C.S. Lewis

But if we acknowledge His great love for us and how He thinks of us, it should naturally stir our affections. How could it not?

/        /        /

I had a professor in college who used to say, “Correct theology should lead to doxology… and vise versa.” Meaning, when we have a proper understanding of the gospel, and we know who God is, and we know who we are in Him — it should lead to worship. And a life characterized by honest, vulnerable worship should lead to a better understanding of all of the above.

Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

Psalm 100:3-4

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