My friend, the late Tom Flanagan of Chowchilla, called it the “Perfect Prayer.” Jesus himself taught it saying, “Pray then like this: ‘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.’” (Matthew 6:9–13)
We call it the “” or the “Our Father.” It addresses several realms of hope, help, and healing, as follows.
- Our Father who art in heaven. Jesus gives us his own father to be Our Father. Then the Holy Spirit teaches us to call him, “Abba! Father” with childlike boldness and intimacy. (Romans 8:15) “Heaven” is plural, “the Heavenlies,” in the original Greek. “Our Father” is not just way up in the third heaven on his throne; but in the second heaven, outer space; and in our heavens where the birds fly.
- Hallowed be your name. We are not praying for our name to be hallowed. We are becoming increasingly less concerned with our name. We embrace Jesus’ saying: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” (Matthew 5:11) We want the name of the Lord to be exalted no matter what anyone thinks of us.
- Your kingdom come. Rather than seeking our own kingdom, with its power and possessions, we wave the white flag, lower our private castle draw bridge, and let the Lord’s kingdom come in.
- Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus himself prayed, “Nevertheless, not my will but your be done.” He surrendered his own will and went forward as a victor rather than as a victim. We can too.
- Give us this day our daily bread. This is a great prayer for workaholics and anxiety addicts. Not emphasizing itself to self-sufficient accumulation, storage, and savings plans, it call us into a daily asking, watching and waiting for Our Father’s providential provision. It calls us to look and listen for the works he as planned in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
- Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Our Father’s daily giving frees us up for constant forgiving. He calls us into freedom from judging and holding bitter grudges against Our Father himself, or others, or against ourselves. We get better at “making direct amends wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” (AA Step 9)
- “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” The Bible says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) We need Our Father for these victories. “Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.’” (2 Chronicles 20:15)
Giv‘m, Our Father in the Heavens!”—John
John Parker encourages those who are eager to participate in spiritual-family-style small groups. He helps to facilitate Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd. Contact John at (209) 564-7201.