The Nursery in the Palace of Prayer
This then, is how you should pray: “Our Father….” Matthew 6:9
When we settle into the Lord’s Prayer as though living in a palace, we begin in the nursery, by learning to say, “Our Father.” When I looked up the word “father” in the Bible, I found over 1100 times. In going through them, five lessons emerged as a blessing to me.
1. The Old Testament heroes loved God, but seldom viewed Him as their Father. The word “father” occurs over 700 times in the Old Testament, but there are less than twenty references to that word as it relates to God. Here are some of those 19 or so examples:
- In Deuteronomy 1:30-31, Moses told the Israelites: The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as He did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.
- Psalm 2:7, a Messianic text, says: I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to Me, “You are My son; today I have become your Father.”
- Psalm 68:5 refers to God as a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows.
- The prophet Isaiah is the only person I could find in the Old Testament who, in a non-Messianic text, addressed God in prayer using the word, “Father.” Isaiah 64:8 says: Yet You, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, You are the potter; we are the work of Your hand.
2. From the beginning, Jesus instinctively viewed God as His Father. All that changed with Jesus. His first recorded words were, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” His inaugural address, the Sermon on the Mount, contains 17 references to the Fatherhood of God. The Gospel of John gives us over 100 occurrences of the word “father” and tells us: For this reason they tired all the more to kill him; not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God…
3. In His Grace, Jesus chose to share this exclusive relationship with us. He longs to share with us the experience of calling God our Father. He had such a wonderful experience with the Fatherhood of God that He wants us to experience it with Him. John 1 says: He (Jesus) was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descend, nor of human decision, or a husband’s will, but born of God.
4. Jesus is the One and Only Son, but we are God’s children by adoption.
- Ephesians 1:5 says: He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will.
- Romans 8 says: For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you salves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Many people live in London who are citizens the United Kingdom, but only a few are members of the royal family. They belong to her realm but not to her home. They can walk through Hyde Park but not through the door of Buckingham Palace. In same way, one day we’re going to be living side-by-side with angels in heaven. They will be citizens of heaven. They are part of God’s kingdom. It would have been possible for you and me to have been born again as members of God’s kingdom and given a home in heaven. We could have been citizens of heaven without actually being members of the royal family. But because of God’s grace, we are not only born again into His Kingdom, but we then are adopted into His family.
5. That makes us part of God’s family and heirs of His riches. Romans 8 says: Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. This is also the theme of the first chapter of the book of Ephesians. I don’t know how to understand it or describe it, except to say you’re richer than you think you are—if you’re a Christian.
Conclusion: This truth also provides the basis for human adoption. My daughter and son-in-law traveled to Korea several years ago to adopt a little boy named Wu-Jin, who was two years old. He had been born in the doorway of a sauna in a Korean city and given up for adoption the day after he was born. He was suffering a wide range of physical and emotional and intellectual needs. I wish I could have gone with them to the orphanage. They had seen his picture. They knew his story. They had watched a video of him playing by himself on the floor of the nursery. But nothing could prepare him for the love they felt when they were driven to the orphanage and when the little fellow was brought out. Grace took him in her arms and said, “Hey, buddy!” and he grabbed the cap to the lens of her camera and stuck a slice of apple in her mouth. And it was love at first bite. Suddenly that little boy had a family. He wasn’t home yet. He still had an ocean to cross. But he had the guarantee of lots of love to come. He had a home, he had a family, he had love. We’ll we’re not home yet either. One day we’ll be there in our Father’s House where there are many mansions. One day we’ll cross the river and be home. But until then we’re safe in our Father’s arms. Even now, we have a palace to occupy and a place to pray. What a pleasure to in the nursery and to pray even as Jesus taught us, “Our Father….”