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The Lord's Prayer
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Bible Study 1

April 18, 2018

Teach us to Pray:  OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN

Bible Study 1: Introduction to the Lord’s Prayer 

April 2018

The Introduction:

 Our Father who art in heaven. (Our Father in heaven.)

 What does this mean?

With these words God tenderly invites us to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father.

 I. 'OUR FATHER'

This little word 'our' teaches us that although prayer is extremely intimate and personal, and although God is indeed personal as opposed to non-personal, the God to whom we pray:

 is not, and never will or can be, an individually defined personal god – In today’s world there are some that have “created” their own god (which is nothing more than humanism – I am god).  Humanism molds, and defines God through personal experiences, combining parts of world religions that seem believable and workable for a person.  The Bible says God is the one God for all us, whether we realize it or not. When we truly pray we are not praying to gods we have each created in our own minds; we are not praying to some mystical god concepts as varied as we are; we are not praying to any personal idea of god. We pray to him who is our God - the one true God for all people.

 is not, and never will or can be, a private personal slave - God is the one true God of the whole earth, with the concern and destiny of the whole earth in his hands; whether we like it or not we are our brother's keeper.  The whole is just as important as the parts.  God's concern for the whole earth should be mirrored in our praying.

 is not, and never will or can be, a private personal possession - he belongs (if we may use that word) to us before ever he belongs to me. This means that self-centered presumption in prayer is outlawed, as is prayer that is an attempt to manipulate God for our own private ends.

There are two levels at which God is our Father - he is our (that is all mankind's) Father; and he is our Father (that is the Father of all who are related to him through faith in his Son Jesus Christ).

 'OUR FATHER' - BY VIRTUE OF CREATION

Because he is the Creator of all that is God is the Father of all. Everything that exists, exists because of God's creation and power. He is the source of all life. He is the sustainer of all life. This sheer dependence on God for our physical life we share in common with all.

 'OUR FATHER - BY VIRTUE OF SALVATION

Through our faith relationship and union with Jesus Christ the Son of God, those who believe in him own God as Father in a unique and special way. Although God is the Father of all by virtue of creation, that fatherhood is largely unknown and unacknowledged, with most of the people of the world living as orphans, not knowing to whom they owe their existence.

  •  To all who believed in him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God' [John 1:12,13].
  • Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. ... by him we cry. "Abba,Father." The Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God's children' [Romans 8:14-16].
  • God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, the spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir' [Gal 4:4-7].
  • In his love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves' [Ephesians 1:4b-6].

  • Dear friends, now we are children of God ...' [1 John 3:2].

 

II. 'IN HEAVEN' - GOD IS NOT LIKE IDOLS

  The over-riding theme of the Bible is simply this: that God is the one true God, and that men have substituted for him gods of their own making: earthbound gods, powerless gods.  God loves us and sent His one and only Son that we may have a right relationship with Him.

  When we address God as 'our Father in heaven' we are expressing the “utter otherness”, uniqueness and holiness of God.  He is not a fabrication of human hands or of human minds. He is over and above and beyond all other concepts of god we imagine and create, and he looks with anger and scorn on all the gods we might put in his place. He is called 'the God of gods' - Deuteronomy 10:17; Daniel 2:47, 11:36.

 NOT LIKE A POWER to perform our will

  Although some people substitute physical and/or conceptual idols for the one, true God, others pray to and seek counsel from various powers they imagine, putting these 'powers' in God's place. This has always been the case, and always will be the case where the one, true God is not known, or is very poorly known.

  The God to whom we pray - our Father in heaven is not some power established by the human mind or will: He is so far over and above these supposed powers that He can turn their 'counsel' into foolishness for his own purposes. Thus, the Christian who knows the one, true God by knowing Jesus Christ has no need to pursue guidance from any of these sources which include astrology, numerology, tarot cards, Ouija boards, palmistry, clairvoyance, séances, mediums, past lives therapy, channeling, angel messages, dreams, spirit guides, and so on. In fact, as far as the Bible is concerned, to seek help from such sources is sin.

 GOD IS NOT (LIKE) US

Nor is God like us: limited, finite, largely ignorant, weak. He is, as we will see in a little while:

  • Eternal: he exists outside of time.
  • Omnipresent: present everywhere.
  • Omnipotent: all powerful.
  • Omniscient: all knowing.

Unlike us, he is also changeless, dependable and perfect.

 IN HEAVEN - THAT IS HE IS TOTALLY SET APART: HOLY

  This otherness, this uniqueness of God, which we have seen in the three points above, is what the Bible means by his holiness. 'Holy' means 'set apart'.  It includes his moral perfection and purity, but it is much more than that.  It is that quality of God that sets him apart from everything else that is - from his creation, from man and from idols.  He is not 'common'.  He is not ordinary.  He is utterly unique.  He is one of a kind.  He cannot be put in a box, or stuck with a label.  He cannot be likened to anything with any degree of accuracy because there is nothing like him.  As it is written a couple of times in the Bible: 'he does whatever pleases him' (Psalm 115:3; 135:6).  This holiness, this uniqueness, is also included when we pray to our Father in heaven.

 IN HEAVEN - THE ALL-POWERFUL

  The God to whom we pray is also powerful. Powerful beyond our imagining. He stands in authority over all that exists. No power can thwart his purposes. No authority can undermine his.  It is only this truth that gives any significance to prayer; without it prayer is nothing more than singing in the dark, emotionally soothing and comforting for the moment perhaps, but ineffective. It is only he who is the Almighty Sovereign Lord of all who has any final power and authority to answer our prayers.  The Biblical teaching on God’s power and wisdom (which at first seems to make prayer redundant and beside the point) is the only valid basis for genuine, expectant prayer.  God must be who He is to be able to answer all our prayers!

 IN HEAVEN - THE ONE WHO KNOWS ALL THINGS, WHO SEES THE END FROM THE BEGINNING

  As our Father in heaven God has no limitation of wisdom and knowledge: he is omniscient (he sees, hears and knows all things). He knows everything. This is related to his timelessness (his eternity) and his omnipresence (his being everywhere). Along with his sovereign authority and power this characteristic of God makes prayer relevant and valid. It is no use praying to a god who doesn't know, or who has limited knowledge. Nor is it any use praying to a god who is not wise.

 PERSONAL CHALLENGE:  To which God do you pray?

  • Think about this questions when you pray:
  • Is he your strong, dependable, loving, caring Father?
  • Is he also the Almighty, glorious, powerful, sovereign Lord of all?
  • Do you come into his presence confident of his love and acceptance and willingness to listen?
  • Do you come also, confident of his awesome ability and authority to respond to your request in the best way possible?
  • Do you also come acknowledging who he is?

 The Lord placed his throne in heaven; he is king over all' [Psalm 103:19].

 There is no one like the Lord our God. He lives in the heights above' [Psalm 113:5].

 Lord God of our ancestors, you rule in heaven over all the nations of the world. You are powerful and mighty, and no one can oppose you' [2 Chronicles 20.6].



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