The Old Testament people, priests, prophets, and kings didn’t do it.
There was no Old Testament prayer that began this way.
This was something new!
Jesus began his prayer addressing God Almighty, King of Kings and Lord of Lords as Father. You won’t find anywhere in the Old Testament where the prayer begins with such intimacy. Jesus shows a real and practical way to pray to His Dad. The invitation from the Lord’s Prayer is broad. Jesus says this…
Our Father in Heaven.
He doesn’t say, ‘my,’ or ‘your’ or ‘his’ or her.’ Jesus says we can pray to our Father. This really struck home to me early in my missionary career in South Africa. I’m asked to pray a lot over here. Often times I would say in response, “You can pray too.” But I was told, “Please pray for me. I can’t.”
It wasn’t until much later that I learned the reason why some of my African friends wanted me to pray for them. Somewhere in their Christian history, they had been told that pastors and missionaries are ‘closer’ to God and have greater insight in prayer. They believed, “If you have a prayer need, go to a ‘go-between’ with God to get answers to your prayers.” A major theological error had been passed from generation to generation in the South African Church. People needed a prophet, priest, pastor, or missionary, instead of believing that they could pray directly to their heavenly Father.
Things were much the same when Jesus came on the scene. People would go to the temple and ask for prayer from a priest. They would ask for Father Abraham, Elijah or some other spiritual giant from their Hebrew heritage to intercede for them. For Jesus to invite them to pray to their Father in Heaven, would have been just as foreign to them as some of my African friends today.
Jesus was saying something profound and new. We don’t have to be a spiritual giant. We don’t have to be a prophet, priest, or king. We don’t have to have any kind of title or designation. We can pray to the LORD, our Father all by ourselves. We can tell Him what is in our hearts and on our minds. He will hear our prayers.
We are invited to come into the presence of God, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ and say our prayers and speak our minds with boldness.
Imagine that! We may speak boldly before God Almighty. If we really take that concept in for a moment and just sit and chew on it, it’s mind-blowing! Yet, that is how important and how precious we are to our Father.
I don’t get to see my dad all that often anymore. We visit the States once every three years or so. We take advantage of Skype to catch up on what’s been going on. My dad and my mom are eager to hear how I’m doing as well as to hear how John and the boys are too. We email a lot. Yet, talking face to face through Skype, in real time with real news, means a ton.
I think the same is true of my Heavenly Father. He wants to hear my news, my thoughts, my struggles, my needs, and my joys in real time. He wants to hear my heart. He values me; just as I am. I don’t need to be flowery in my speech. I don’t need to speak with great clarity. Going through the motions as I pray, without thought, isn’t the way to go either. My Father asks me to just talk to Him.
He’s not only my Heavenly Father. He’s our Heavenly Father. We are all invited to pray and talk to Him anytime, in any place, and with any need. Let me say it again, “We are invited. What an incredible invitation!”
Thank you, Father.