For some people, the beginning of this prayer has to be rough.
To start with, “our Father” brings horrible memories. And the thought, “if God is like that, then I’m not interested.”
As I thought about this beginning, however, I realized that Jesus knew.
Jesus knew that some men would be hopelessly cruel to their daughters. He knew that some families would shatter through the selfishness of one or the other or both. He knew that the image of father would be a challenge for many dads. (I think about it sometimes. I realize that the image our kids have of God as father is shaped by their image of Jon as father, and I am chagrined.)
And so Jesus, in his knowledge of what families were going to be like, good and ill, starts this model of prayer by focusing on the closest, dearest, strongest, healthiest, most life-giving, most protection-offering person he knew. His Father in heaven.
Before any requests are made. Before any apologies are offered. Before any transactions are begun, relationship is established.
This is to be a familial relationship, a perfect paternal relationship. Everything you ever wished for a dad to be is being offered at the beginning of this prayer, this conversation.
And if we have questions about starting the conversation with relationship, Jesus uses a story to show what the relationship is like (Luke 15:19) with a son who left home and messed up and shamed the family and then comes back saying, “‘Father I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father…'”
“But the father.”
This is a father who knew exactly what the son had done and wouldn’t let him finish the speech.
So Jesus says to start with “our Father.”
4 thoughts on “Our Father in heaven”
I have heard/read theraputic explanations for dealing with the issue that “Our Father” creates in the hearts and minds of some. However, I have never heard the image of the father in the prodigal son as the corrective. Yet it is evident that Jesus gave us that picture of the father as a way of comprehending the reality of the type of father that God has chosen to be described as. It is truly a beautiful image and does more than any theraputic explanation has been able to do for me.
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