In my previous article on the subject of *prayer I mentioned what has come to be known as ‘The Lord’s Prayer’. I suggested it could be used as a paradigm for other prayers, since it has elements often found in prayers, such as reverence and respect for God and the desire for His will to be done.
Another subject I have touched on is **’meditation’, and quite often when we pray, we meditate upon God. So today I would like to embark on a series of articles devoted to meditating on the ‘Lord’s Prayer’.
Here is the prayer as set out in Matthew 6:9-13. [Note – there’s an almost identical version of the prayer in Luke 11:2-4.]
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors,
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Starting from the beginning of the prayer, ‘Our Father in heaven,’ what is the significance of ‘Father’ and ‘heaven’?
Well, both of them are extraordinary! Let’s first consider our relationship with the ‘Father’. How can God possibly be ‘Our’ Father (Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6)? The biblical answer is that He has made us [those who believe] His sons in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:26; 1 John 5:20). Christ is the begotten Son of God (John 1:18; Hebrews 1:5), and when we are ‘in Christ’ we become adopted sons of God (Ephesians 1:5). Christ is our Brother (Matthew 12:48-50). His royal blood was shed to bring us into that relationship (Luke 22:20).
We have no heavenly mother, but we do have the Father as our Father. He made us (Psalm 139:14); He conceived us (Psalm 139:13), and His Spirit gave birth to us (John 3:5-7). We have life in Him (John 14:6). He tells us He is our Father, and He looks after us as no other father could possibly do. He provides us with all our needs, and we look to Him for our sustenance here on earth, and for the promised inheritance to come in the new heaven (John 14:2, 3; 1 Peter 1:4).
The prayer commences with ‘Our Father in heaven’. To state the obvious, our Father God lives in heaven (Deuteronomy 26:15), but where is heaven, and what’s it like? Well, I’ve already written about it. [Click the link ***below.]
Jesus is there with the Father, sitting at His right hand (Matthew 26:64), where He intercedes for us. How much of this is figurative I do not know, especially as we Christians are already citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20). Our present citizenship is spiritual (John 4:24), and we are aliens on earth as we live in a physical kingdom. The future heavenly kingdom will have an entirely different structure and environment to that we experience here on earth.
It is reasonable to believe that the organic, physical and material structures of God’s original Paradise, the Garden of Eden, were identical to those of the Earth today. However, some biblical scholars believe the climate was dramatically changed because of the universal flood (Genesis 8:1—14). The world is wearing out and it is finite (Romans 8:21). It will end( 2 Peter 3:7). By contrast the new heaven and earth (Revelation 21:1) will never wear out or end (Revelation 22:5), nor will our new bodies and souls (John 3:36; 6:47).
For these things we praise our remarkable Father and His Son, who together dwell in Heaven and the Holy Spirit who dwells within us (Romans 8:11).
In my next article I’ll be focussing on ‘hallowed be Your name’ and ‘Your kingdom come.’