“Like Jesus, and like the apostles, our asking is related to our assurance of God’s fathering. The object of all asking and the consequent source of all answering is the Father.”
Just Asking: Restoring the Soul of Prayer
I never used to give much thought to how I opened my prayers. God, Jesus, Lord–it’s all the same, right? I whizzed past who I asked to get to the what. We are, after all, encouraged to ask. Yet so little of my prayer was spent on God and so much on me. I did not slow down to ponder or appreciate who I addressed, or even the unfathomable convenience that at any moment, without any ritual required, I could but think God’s name and find an audience with him.
In Matthew 6, Jesus teaches his disciples to pray. The words of this prayer are familiar to most of us, and we can recite them without skipping a beat, at least until the part where you have to choose between debts and trespasses. How might we prepare our hearts by slowing down?
Encapsulating many realities, the two words opening Jesus’ model prayer, “Our Father,” speak to who God is, his relationship to us, and who we are as a result of his fathering. Within the sweep of “Our Father,” we apprehend more than mere genealogy. This address alludes to an inheritance, provision, protection, security, advocacy, honor, nurture and more. As father, God also disciplines us for our good that we may share in his holiness (Hebrews 12:10). He is the one from whom we, among all family on heaven and earth, derive our name (Ephesians 3:15). As a father, he wills us into creation, chooses us, and adopts us into his family by his Spirit (Ephesians 3:20, Romans 8:15).
Reflect: What does it look like when a good father gives? When needy children ask? How does prayer look when we keep this in mind? How does it look when we forget?