Matthew 6:9 (ESV)We all have different people we communicate with during the day. We have our boss, co-workers, friends, spouses, children and our own parents to name just a few. The way we communicate with each person depends on our relationship with that person. When I talk to my boss I'm more reserved and professional than when I talk to my wife (hopefully).
9 Pray then like this: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
I think for prayer to work right, we have to understand our relationship to God, or at least what that relationship should be. Jesus' first lesson in this prayer he is teaching His disciples, is that God is our Father and God is to be reverenced as holy.
This seems simple enough. However, "father" can have many different meanings depending on your own experiences. We all have our own earthly father and part of our perception of a "father" is based on this experience. You could have a great father or you could have a father that only brought you pain.
Whatever type of father you have, he's not God. He's failed you at some point. If your a dad like me, you've failed your own children at some point, like me. So what is a perfect heavenly father like?
Our heavenly Father is a Father that waits for us to turn to Him from our worldly pursuits, and we when we do, He rushes to us to pour out His love and grace.
Luke 15:20-24 (ESV)In this parable, the wayward son finally realizes that the life he has chosen has left him feeding slop to pigs and he would be better off as a servant in his father's house. What he finds is a father that runs to embrace and kiss him when he sees his son coming in the distance. He does not find a father that says "I told you so." He does not find a father that is holding a grudge for ruining his good family name. He does not get accepted back on probationary terms. He is received back unconditionally and even has a party thrown in his name.
20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' 22 But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate.
When I come to my heavenly Father to pray, who am I coming to? Am I coming as a spoiled child that just wants Dad to fix all of my problems? Am I afraid to come to Him at all because I know I have disappointed Him? Am I coming to Him because I'm a rule follower and that's what I'm supposed to do (see big brother in passage above)? Or, am I coming humbly back to my Father, because I know I cannot do this life on my own?
While it is important to know the mercy and grace of my Father, it is just as important not to forget that He is holy. How often have I taken my parents for granted? How often have I thought I was smarter than my old man. Yes, God is a merciful and gracious Father that His Spirit within me calls "Daddy". However, He is a holy and righteous God that I should come to with exaltation and praise.
Psalms 99:5 (ESV)If I want my prayers to move from superficial to real, I have to know with whom I am talking.
5 Exalt the Lord our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he!