Thus You Shall Pray
“Thus you shall pray in this way: Our Father, who is in the heavens, let your name be reverenced.” (Matthew 6:9)
“After this manner, therefore, pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” (Matthew 6:9, KJV)
This prayer begins with a wonderful statement of both faith and assurance. This is not a “dear God, whoever you are and wherever you are…” statement, but this prayer begins with a confident statement of exactly who God is, where he stands, and where you stand in relationship to him. The believer can refer to God as “Father” because of the work of Jesus Christ. Jesus fulfilled the old covenant that Adam failed to fulfill and he died a sacrificial death to pay the debit of sin that his people owe to God. He substituted himself in our place, taking the wrath of his father that we deserve, so that we might stand in his place and be adopted into his father’s household. Thus, in the confidence of our faith in Jesus Christ, we can boldly proclaim, “Our Father.”
But not only is this a statement of confidence in your relationship with the heavenly Father, but this is a statement where you affirm from the depths of your heart that you know and understand where God is. God is in heaven; he reigns over the earth, yet is not bound by the things of the earth; and God has the authority to do what he chooses for he is above all things. We as sinners are infinitely separated from God on high, yet he has chosen to make a way to bring us to himself. That in itself is an amazing statement! God does not need us, nor does he derive any part of himself from our existence or relationship with him, but it is his good pleasure to bring us to himself that we might enjoy him. That God would condescend to a relationship with a wretch like me is beyond my ability to comprehend—but I gratefully receive such grace and immerse myself in its awesome truth.
One of the things we often struggle with is saying “who art in heaven” when times are bad. When times are good, we revel in God’s sovereignty, but usually, when our lives fall apart, we cry out, wondering where God has gone to. We like to think of God as sovereign over good, but when it comes to God’s sovereignty over evil we balk. Yet, God is in control over all things. Though God is not the author of evil, he is sovereign over it. Evil does not frustrate his plans, but God uses the evil of this world to bring his plans to fruition. The question is, can you stand on God’s sovereignty in the midst of personal loss? Can you stand on God’s sovereignty when a loved one dies or a child dies suddenly? Can you stand on God’s sovereignty when people rape or molest or torture? These are not easy questions to answer, but if we are going to answer them Biblically, we must stand on the sovereignty of God, trusting that God has worked all things for the good of those who love him—even those things that are horrid in our eyes.