||2016-01-27 12:43:31, 조회 : 1,436, 추천 : 278
| "When You Pray"|
Philip Graham Ryken
Our Father in Heaven
Hello to another beautiful day that has been given to us by God! Today, we will continue with our book, When You Pray, by the author Philip Graham Ryken. Which we will look at chapter 4, Our Father in Heaven.
As per usual, the author provides for us a verse to open up the chapter. Coming from Galatians 4:6, "Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father."
We have mentioned this in the last chapter, that Jesus Christ put a huge importance in teaching His disciples to pray to God by calling Him Father. As said in Matthew 6:9, "Our Father in heaven." And through His teaching, He has taught us the most about the fatherhood of God, and taught us a new way to pray.
Interestingly enough, the Jews had always been careful on how they addressed God in their prayers. And in their cautiousness, they have never called him Father. The Old Testament does not contain the idea of the fatherhood of God. At times, they referred to God as the Father of Israel, but you will not find in the Old Testament a Jew referring to God as "my Father." Kent Hughes writes on this by saying that God is only referred to as Father fifteen times in the Old Testament, and when the term was used, it was to reference to the nation, and never individuals, such as Father of Israel. Even Abraham never spoke to God calling him, "my Father."
Jesus made it His task to make the Fatherhood of God to be essential in our prayers. Jesus calls God "Father" roughly sixty times in the Gospels. The only time He had not was when he was in agony on the cross, Matthew 27:46, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" However, even after that, as He drew his last breath, Jesus prayed, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." In Jesus' prayer life, referring to God as "Father" was at the heart of it. And to His disciples, the first Christians, He taught them too to call God "Father." Romans 8:15 can support this claim, which reads, "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.'"
The way Jesus prayed changed prayer life as a whole. And He changed it by making it possible for us to pray the same way. It would seem natural for the child of the father to call his own father, "Abba, Father," but for us, we were not born from God. However, Jesus made us God's son and daughters, so we too may rightfully call God "Father." John 1:12 tells us, "To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." By trusting in Jesus Christ to save us from our sins and death, we were born again as a child of God and we were adopted into God's family.
However, before being born again and being adopted in God's family, you cannot rightfully call God "Father." Unless you are a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, this is not to occur. Which is why the early church did not allow for visitors to pray the Lord's Prayer until they had been baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. The Lord's Prayer is specifically for the Lord's disciples, and before we can pray to God as our Father, we must first become a true child of God through Jesus Christ.
Once we become a child of God, the Holy Spirit enables us to call God our Father, as Galatians 4:6 reads, "Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father.'" Every member of the Trinity is involved whenever a Christians prays with the word "Father." The Father makes us His children through the Son, and the Spirit enables us to call Him our Father. This is the high privilege that is given to us, Christians. And in the Lord's Prayer, Jesus authorizes His disciples to repeat the word abba with Him. Jesus gives us a share in His sonship and empowers us to speak to our heavenly Father in a familiar, trusting way, just as a child would call on his own father.
So, how does a child speak to his father? The Westminster Catechism provides an answer.
Q: 100. What doth the preface of the Lord's Prayer teach us?
A: The preface of the Lord's Prayer (which is, Our Father which art in heaven) teacheth us to draw near to God with all holy reverence and confidence, as children to a father, able and ready to help us; and that we should pray with and for others.
The catechism answer understands how the heart of a child should be when approaching his father. Children who love their fathers approach them with both the warmest confidence as well as deep reverence. In which both of these attitudes is shown to us in the Lord's Prayer.
As the catechism answers, we are to pray to God as our Father, and we are to approach Him with confidence. This confidence stems from the intimacy that we are to share with our Father, who is also our friend.
Now, some in the audience may not understand having a father as also a friend. In our time, especially in America, there are a lot of fathers who are either absent, weak in providing spiritual leadership, and/or emotionally distant. There are too many fathers who show little to no affection to their families. However, a real father is a man who passionately loves his family. Not only his children, but very much so also his wife, and through such affection, his children have the confidence to ask him for what they need.
However, in either case, Jesus tells us to call God "Father" and to do so with confidence, even if we have never known a father's love. This is because Jesus knows that a father's love is what we have always wanted. And so He invites us to become God's beloved child. He teaches us to speak to Him as our dear Father. And at first, this will be difficult, and it will very awkward. However, when we learn to pray to God as our Father, we will experience the healing that only our Heavenly Father's love can bring.
And yet, while Jesus does teach us to pray "Abba, Father," we are not to approach God without reverence. What does reverence mean? Reverence is a feeling of deep respect. And while God is our Father in heaven, we are to remember that God is so far above us that his exalted position demands our worship and respect. Which is why Ecclesiastes 5:2 reads, "Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few."
We are to always approach God with awesome respect. The fact that God is in heaven demands our reverence. But then so does the simple fact that he is our father. His paternal compassion is only reversed for those who give him the respect he deserves. In Psalms 103:13, "As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him." We are not to be too casual in the way we address God. For example, referring to God as, "Daddy!"
And so, we are to approach God by a simple, "Our Father in heaven," or something of similar nature. This is to be the best approach to God for it acknowledges respect and honor that is due to Him, as well as approaching God in a childlike manner. With such a frame of mind, it will allow for us to pray with certainty that God is listening to us as we pray.
As we approach God with both confidence and reverence, we are to remember what we come to God for. In the last petitions of the Lord's Prayer, we ask for exactly the kinds of things that children ask for from their fathers, which are provision, pardon, and protection.
How are we asking God for provision in the Lord's Prayer? We beg God, "Give us today our daily bread." Providing daily bread is part of a father's job, and he is to be the bread winner. And to fathers, it's a compliment to be called a "good provider." Yet, God is not only a good provider, but the best provider of all. And Jesus tells us God's ability in a parable in Matthew 7:9-11. Which concludes with, "If you, then, though you are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" And with the reason simply being that He is our gracious heavenly Father, God will provide for everything we need to live.
When we ask for pardon, we pray, "Forgive us of our debts, as we forgive our debtors." Granting pardon, or forgiveness, is also a part of the father's job. When children are being bad, they are usually to answer to their fathers. However, any child that comes to his father to ask for forgiveness, knows that he will be forgiven because he will always be the father's child. And it is exactly the Fatherhood of God that gives us the confidence to ask God to pardon our sins. And like the prodigal son, in another of Jesus' parable, the son who squandered his father's inheritance returns and says, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you." And essentially, we would never have the courage to ask God to forgive us of our debts unless we already knew that we could call him our Father. The reason we pray to God as our Father, and the reason our Father will forgive us, is because Jesus has paid for our sins through His death on the cross.
And lastly, we pray for protection. We do this by asking our Father to "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One." When we make such petition, we are asking of God to protect us from Satan and to defend our hearts from sin. And defending, as well as providing and pardoning, is also part of a father's responsibility. And so, God is our shelter in our time of need, as well as the One who lifts us up with strong arms in the day of trouble and carries us to a safe place. And if we are God's child, then the reality of God's fatherly care sought not only dominate our prayers, but also our whole life.
As J. I. Packer writes, "If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, found out how much he makes of the thought of being God's child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought the prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught... is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God."
Which concludes chapter 4, Our Father in Heaven, in which I hope that you understand that God is our loving Father, and so he will help us. He is our Father in heaven, and He has infinite resources at his disposal to help us. And most importantly, I hope you accept Jesus' invitation to draw nearer to God, confidently and reverently, asking him for what we need, and calling him, "Dear Father."
1) Do you feel comfortable addressing God as Father? What hesitations might there be about thinking of God in this way? This can be personal as well as general.
2) What things are there in your life right now that you either have been praying consistently for or are encouraged, after studying this passage, to begin asking for?