The Lord’s Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer

Dec 22, 2016

The Lord’s Prayer

by Phil Lawton

Our Father is the first in a series about The Lord’s Prayer written by Pastor Phil Lawton from the Seventh Day Baptist Chruch of Shiloh, NJ. Check out Phil’s blog at


Our Father…

These first two words set the stage for understanding the rest of the Lord’s Prayer.

Every week, all around the world, Christians recite the Lord’s Prayer. They do it because that is what they have always done. They do it because it is familiar. They do it because that is the prayer that Jesus commanded us to pray. But I wonder how many of them really understand what Jesus is telling us through it. Do they understand that He encapsulated His sermon on the mount into this one prayer? If they really understood what the words mean would they still pray them?

Our Father. These are the first two words of the Lord’s Prayer. At first glance they don’t seem to mean much. They are just an address to God and yet this address brings with it some rich theology. In these two words we find hope, community, belonging, identity. In these two words is a deep understanding of who we are as a people of God and who God is for us. These first two words set the stage for understanding the rest of the Lord’s Prayer.

When many of us think about God the Father we are encouraged. We think about our earthly fathers’ love for us. We are reminded of family and belonging. But the truth is there is a growing number of people in this country who don’t make these associations with father. For them the term father refers to a cruel man who withholds love. Unless we deal with this we can never understand why Jesus used the term father.

God Hates You

The movie Fight Club typifies the nihilism of many in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It follows a man who has lost all hope in anything. It is a story of hitting rock bottom and coming out the other side. He decides that all social constructs, even religion, have failed him and thus he must accept a new one of his own creation. A journey that closely resembles Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra.

Why mention this? Because there is one scene (language warning) in Fight Club that explains exactly how many people view God. The main character is suffering from a chemical burn and his friend, Tyler Durden, is trying to help him reach enlightenment through it. Durden exclaims that “our fathers were our models for God.” He concludes that since God hates them, they don’t need God.

We have to be aware of the boundaries that we may be putting up simply because of the words that we use.

Now many of you are thinking that this isn’t true. God doesn’t hate His children.

You would be right. But our earthly fathers taint how we view our heavenly father. If we had a loving father, then it becomes easy for us to accept that we have a loving heavenly father. But if we had an earthly father who beat us, or neglected us, or raped us, then it becomes very, very hard to see that connection.

Our Mother

What is interesting is that for many of these Christians seeing God as mother is easier. They grew up in homes where their mothers or grandmothers where the primary care givers. They can understand love and compassion and selflessness because of their mothers. They can even point to places in scripture where God is referred to in female terms.

So should we all start calling God “Our Mother”? No. I am not saying that. There are actually very good reasons why Jesus used the term father instead of mother. But what I want you to see is that there can be issues with the language we use to describe God. We have to be aware of the boundaries that we may be putting up simply because of the words that we use. We must always be aware of these boundaries.

The Community of God

Before I delve much deeper into the use of the word father, I want to back up and talk about “our.” This is such an important word. Jesus could have easily said “My” father. There are plenty of places where He refers to God as His father. But here, in this prayer, Jesus calls God “our father.” This is so important to our understanding of how we are to relate to one another.

In the most simple terms this means that each and every Christian is a brother and sister to each other. This means that the church of God — that the people of God — are a family. We are called to care for one another. We are called to help and encourage one another. This is a concept that is picked up in the epistles. In nearly every epistle the people of God are called brothers and sisters. It was not just Paul who saw this; both James and Peter use these terms.

He became like us so that we could become like Him. We have, through adoption, what Jesus had by nature.

But more than being brothers and sisters to each other, we are brothers and sisters to Jesus. He reminds us that anyone who follows Him is a brother or a sister. This is an amazing thing! Not only are we part of the family of believers, but we are also part of the family of God.

We are First Born Sons

In the ancient near East, property and rights were transferred through the men in the family. Women could not own property. This is the central dilemma in the book of Ruth. Women were supposed to be taken care of by the men in their family. God even struck Onan dead because he refused to take care of his sister-in-law Tamar. Needless to say, this is a culture where property and blessings are passed from father to son.

It is this culture that Jesus comes into. This is the reason that Jesus was born male. Jesus referring to God as father conveys this relationship. It shows us that God will bestow upon us blessings as children. I have talked at length about how Jesus became like us so that He could save us. I have talked about how this means that we need to humble ourselves like Jesus.

But there is more. He became like us so that we could become like Him. We have through adoption what Jesus had by nature. Paul calls us co-heirs with Christ. The author of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus took on our death so that we could have His eternal life. We receive the blessings of God — the very likeness of God — because we are His children. Because we are His first born sons.

This is why the first two words are so important. They remind us that God is the father of us all. They remind us we must be a community that takes care of each other. They show us that we are family. But more than that they show us that God has given us good gifts. They show us that God has blessed us. They show us that we have received everything that belongs to God. They show us that we are cared for and loved. They give us hope for our future.

May you come to realize that you are part of a family.

May you see yourself as worthy of blessings.

May you understand that God is a good father.

And may God continue to bless you, His child.


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