When it comes to disciplining people, the topic of prayer, being so personal and intimate, can be viewed as something one simply does, rather than something one is taught. As I mentioned last Sunday, I have been deeply challenged about this recently and want to take this time to share it with you. Most of us are familiar with Matthew 6:5-15 and Luke 11:1-4 which are often given the title of the Lord’s Prayer. In these texts, Jesus, after sharing some “don’ts” when it comes to prayer (only in Matthew 6:5-8), sought to teach his disciples some simple, yet profound things about prayer. Although the whole prayer is rich with insight, I wish only to consider it’s beginning.
In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven. Hallowed be Your name…
As most of you know, our youngest son made some choices some time back which has resulted in us not hearing from him for a very long time. I intellectually understand that we are to “count it all joy” (James 1:2) when faced with difficult times, realizing that such times, with a God centered attitude, can be beneficial in helping us to grow in Christ: so, it is with this situation. If you were to ask me, “What do you yearn for the most when it comes to your son?” My answer is simple, “I yearn to hear from him.” His father wants to hear from his son whom he loves so desperately. Now let’s step away and consider the prayer that Jesus taught the disciples, which begins with “Our Father.” The Father who put redemption in motion “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4) with the intent of offering “His only begotten Son” (John 3:16) that would usher in sinful man’s opportunity to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16), yearns for us to talk with Him. The exhortation for God’s children to “pray without ceasing” (1st Thessalonians 5:17) is the Father’s way of saying, I am always here to listen and help. Even though He knows what we need before we even ask (Matthew 6:8), He still wants to hear from us. The Father yearns to hear from His children!
If that wasn’t enough, I was confronted with another thought, equally challenging. You see, I thought, “My son should reach out to me because…well…I am his father.” Notice that father is not capitalized, nor should it be. I was, and still remain, an imperfect father, giving reason to why my son may struggle to communicate with me. Okay, what about God the Father? He is perfect! He is “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2nd Corinthians 1:3) who is ready to “comfort us in all our tribulation” (2nd Corinthians 1:4). Much like my son’s perception of me may hinder him, so it is with my perception of my heavenly Father. “Hallowed be Your name,” Jesus says. This word hallowed speaks to man’s perception of the Father. It means to render or acknowledge to be venerable. Simply put, “God the Father deserves and yes, commands great respect.” The ETRV reads in part, “…we pray that your name will always be kept holy.” By who? By me, the petitioner!
As much as I yearn to hear from my son, how much more does our Father, who is in heaven, yearns to hear from us…from me? If, by virtue of being his father, I should anticipate, even expect to hear from him. How much more should my heavenly Father expect to hear from me. God, so gracious and patient, is teaching me to reach out to Him in good times and bad, for He is worthy of my attention. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name!