The opening words of the Lord’s Prayer are very familiar to many people, whether as the traditional, “Our Father who art in heaven,” or the more modern version. Yet these are such familiar words that it is very easy for us to forget the deep significance and wondrous truth contained in them.
From its very first page, the Bible describes to us an amazing and awe-inspiring God. He spoke, and through his words the whole universe was created, from the most distant stars to tiny creatures. He is the one who made mankind. Later, he is the one who performed amazing signs to judge the Egyptians and to bring his people safely into the Promised Land. He is the one in charge of every person and every creature – nothing is outside of his knowledge or sovereign control. As we think of God we should rightly be overawed by his greatness, goodness and holiness.
Yet when Jesus’ disciples ask him how they should pray, he tells them to say, “Our Father in heaven.” For Jesus’ followers the great God, who is both the Creator and the one who sustains the whole universe, is also someone we can call our Father.
Sometimes we can think of prayer as a dry duty: something that we ought to do and so tick it off the list for today. But if we think like that then we have forgotten who God is: that he is both the God over everything, yet also our loving Father. If once or twice a month we had the ear of the Prime Minister or other senior leaders, we would consider ourselves very fortunate. Yet the truth is that we have something so much better. As Christian believers we can come to the one who rules every nation, and indeed all life, matter and time itself – yet who welcomes us as his children through the Lord Jesus Christ.
In John’s Gospel, after Jesus has risen from the dead, he calls God, “My Father and your Father” (John 20:17). Jesus is the Son of God, yet through him we are also children of God who can call on God as our Father. Prayer is an immense privilege given to those who trust in the Lord Jesus – a wonderful outworking of the good news of Christ. So let’s pray. Both on our own and together, let’s pray to our loving heavenly Father.