“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matthew 6: 9-13)
Many things can hinder our approach to God’s throne of grace – sin, coldness, irreverence, carelessness. It is therefore important that believers learn from the Lord’s Prayer how to draw nigh to God and what to pray for as we ought.
Though the Lord’s Prayer is brief, it is clear, comprehensive and complete. Every word is full of meaning and instruction for believers. It sets the pattern for them, helping them to pray rightly and acceptably before God.
Having considered the opening address, “Our Father”, let us now look at the next phrase, “which art in heaven”. May our study of this phrase help us to appreciate afresh God’s glory and lead us into a more meaningful communion with Him.
“Our Father which art in heaven”
What are some thoughts as we use this phrase, “which art in heaven” in our prayer?
This phrase directs our eyes upwards to Heaven where God dwells. The psalmist declares, “Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high, 6 Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!” (Ps. 113: 5-6). Though the Lord God “dwelleth on high” – in eternal glory – He condescends to attend to the needs of His children. As the Almighty God, what has He to do with our fallen, dark and perverse world of depraved people? Why should He be gracious to condemned sinners like us? But because He is merciful and kind, “our Father which art in heaven” stooped down from His throne on high to save and help a sinful people. Though He is in Heaven, our Father never forgets us. His thoughts are always of us (Ps. 40: 5; 139: 17). May our Father’s amazing condescension stir our hearts to appreciate our privileges, and to love and adore Him.
As we come daily before God, we may not always consider His holiness or eternal glory. Paying scant attention to His divine attributes, we approach Him carelessly or presumptuously. But using this phrase reminds us of God’s power and majesty. All our pride melts away in His holy presence and we stand as unworthy sinners before Him.
“The place of God’s abode suggests to us His glory, greatness, and holiness. He is not like one of us. We faintly bear His image – but He is infinitely above us. All the visions and representations of God in the Scriptures, show Him to us as dwelling in light to which no man can approach. Thus we are assured, also, of the power of God. He is our Father – infinite in love – but infinite also in strength, omnipotent! We are safe in His hands. No power can harm us – if we are sheltered in His strong keeping!” (The Golden Gate of Prayer – J R Miller).
By acknowledging our Father’s heavenly abode, we express our reverence for Him as the sovereign Ruler Who reigns from His eternal dwelling on high. He is in control of every event in the universe and even the minutest detail in our lives. Nothing can thwart God’s purposes. We are comforted that God watches over us to direct our lives from His lofty throne.
The phrase, “which art in heaven” reminds us that God is a Spirit. He is the immortal, incomprehensible and mysterious God Who cannot be seen or touched. Thus, when we come to God, we come in faith, believing that He hears our prayers through our Mediator, Jesus Christ.
The phrase, “which art in heaven” may comprise a few simple words but it brings to mind God’s divine attributes and guides our approach to Him in prayer. It tells us of His gracious condescension to a sinful and unworthy people. It humbles us to think of His power, glory and majesty. It comforts us that we can look to Him as the sovereign Ruler Whose purposes cannot be foiled. Because we cannot see God, we pray in faith, trusting that He will attend to our cries. With these blessed thoughts, let us draw near to our Heavenly Father in a manner that is well-pleasing unto Him. (… to be continued)