When his disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, he gave them a sample prayer. We usually call it The Lord’s Prayer, but another title works just as well: The Model Prayer. I can’t remember when I memorized this prayer: it seems as if I’ve always known it. Too often I recite it without paying attention, mouthing words like hallowed, thy, and thine that I never use outside of church.
This week as we reflect on the prayer Jesus gave us, I’ll use the words of the Good News Translation (GNT).
“This, then, is how you should pray: 9 Our Father in heaven: May your holy name be honored; 10 may your Kingdom come; may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today the food we need. 12 Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us. 13 Do not bring us to hard testing, but keep us safe from the Evil One.” [Matthew 6:9-13]
Today reflect with me on verse 9: Our Father in heaven: May your holy name be honored.
OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN
When we begin, “Our Father,” we acknowledge the relationship Jesus offers us with God. In Jesus’ day, God’s name was so holy it could never be spoken. When Jesus told his disciples to address God as “Our Father,” he offered an entirely new way of relating to God! Addressing God as Father can be painful because earthly fathers make mistakes, sometimes wounding children terribly. That’s why we say, “Our Father in heaven.” God is the loving father in the parable of the Prodigal Son, the father who runs to meet us when we come home.
MAY YOUR HOLY NAME BE HONORED
The dictionary defines holy as “exalted” or “divine.” The Bible is filled with images of how God is holy. Isaiah 6:1-3 relates a vision of God seated on a throne, mysterious and holy, surrounded by creatures unlike any on earth. Psalm 8 paints a picture of the night sky with the moon and the stars, all God’s handiwork. 1 Samuel 6:3 asks, “Who can stand before the Lord, this holy God?”
The opening words of the model prayer present us with a paradox: the invitation to approach Holy God as a beloved child. When we overemphasize one part of this equation at the expense of the other part, our prayer life suffers. If I think of God only as the Holy One, I have a hard time praying about little things. But if I think of God only as a Loving Father, I sometimes think God owes me an explanation when God’s answers to my prayers don’t match my expectations.
When you pray, do you think of God more as a Loving Father or as the Holy One? How does that affect your prayer life? How might you reach a better balance?
Heavenly Father, today help us honor you in our thoughts, words, and deeds.