What ‘Our Father’ Really Means When You Pray

The first words of The Lord’s Prayer pack a powerful, inclusive punch.

Posted in , Sep 2, 2019

Praying, Our Father

Christians around the world—and down through the centuries—have prayed by saying the words Jesus taught His first followers: “Our Father…”

They’re the first words of the prayer commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer.” They are so full and rich in meaning that it’s hard to overestimate their importance. Too often, however, when we say those words, we gloss right over them, barely thinking. But do you know what you’re saying when you pray, “Our Father”?

You say, in an age when disconnectedness and loneliness are epidemic, that you never pray alone. Jesus said to pray Our Father. Not, My Father. It is a small word—just three letters long in English, but there is a whole world in our.

It means you pray with Jesus. He is your partner and advocate. It means you pray with the Holy Spirit, even when “we do not know what to pray for as we ought… the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26-27, ESV).

It means you pray with the whole church—throughout history and around the world. You pray with people of all colors, shapes, ages, tribes, tongues, customs and personalities. It means that you pray with all Creation, which “has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time,” looking forward “to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay” (Romans 8:22, 21, NLT).

When you pray, “Our Father,” you are also appealing to an intimate relationship. My daughter, Aubrey, is a beautiful, intelligent and accomplished woman. She is a married and mother to three children. She refers to me as her father, of course. But there are times—precious times—when she, grown woman that she is, still calls me Daddy (and not always when she wants a favor). It never fails to warm my heart and, yes, make me even more willing than ever to make her dreams come true.

It’s like that when you say, “Our Father.” You’re agreeing with the words of Paul, who wrote, “Because we are His children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, ‘Abba, Father’” (Galatians 4:6, NLT).

There are many ways to pray, of course, and many of them are good ways to pray. But when you pray, “Our Father,” you say so much, and all of it is good.

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