Jesus wants His disciples to know how to pray. So often people struggle to pray because they think God demands a select vocabulary in order for prayer to be acceptable. But what Jesus wants His disciples to know is that prayer is between a person and the true God. Jesus desires for us to understand that prayer must be personal and honest. So Jesus in Matthew 6:9-13 provides us a model of how His people ought to pray. What is most interesting is that His model prayer begins with the phrase, “Our Father.”
We must note two things about Jesus’ model prayer and the language of God as “Our Father.” First, there is a broad sense where all of creation can call God as Father because He is the Creator. We see the Apostle Paul speak in this way when He spoke to the philosophers at Mars Hill in Acts 17:27-29. There Paul described that every human in existence knows God as Father in this limited sense. However, the Apostle proceeded to explain the insufficiency of this first sense to the Greeks. Paul said, “the times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom He has appointed.” (Acts 17:30-31 ESV) Everyone is God’s child in the first sense (viewing Him as Creator) but it is only to those who repent and believe, who are considered God’s beloved children. They must be adopted into the family of God by their union with Christ. They alone know God as Creator AND Redeemer.
The Apostle John echoed this great privilege of adoption for believers when he wrote, “to all who did receive him [that is Christ Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13 ESV) In other words, John is highlighting the gift of God’s unconditional election whereby He predestines some people to be redeemed by the power of the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.
The work of Christ is universally proclaimed, but only effectually applied to some individuals, whom the Scriptures refer to as “the elect.” (cf. Mark 13:22; 2 Tim. 2:10) With this in mind, it is only to those who have been enabled to repent and believe, who have sought life and forgiveness through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, who have been brought into the family of God (which is the Church) that can dare to truly call God as their Father.
As J.C. Ryle wrote, “Without faith in Christ’s blood, and union with Him, it is vain to talk of trusting in the Fatherhood of God.” For without Christ standing in the gap between us and God the Father, we are only to expect wrath and death. God is not indifferent towards sin. If He was, He would cease to be God for God is holy, righteous and just. We need the work of God the Son, to reconcile us to God the Father by means of God the Spirit. With Christ standing before God as our great High Priest, we stand in hope of God’s grace and love. When we believe in Jesus and His Gospel, God becomes unto us a Father like we never could have expected.
Is God your Father today? Whether you desire to admit it or not He is your Creator. But is He your Redeemer? Are you reconciled to God or do you stand condemned in His sight? Are you trusting in Him to care for you and all of your life? If you haven’t repented from your sins and asked God to forgive you and transform you through Christ, then you need Him to save you. Without God you are ruined. But if you will believe in Christ Jesus, you and your estranged Heavenly Father can be reconciled forever. This is what the Bible is all about. It was “written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31 ESV)
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