Our Father in Heaven – Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in Heaven hallowed by your name

It is one of our great privileges to come to our Father in prayer. I cannot express how much its meant to me to understand that He wants to hear from me and build a relationship. Throughout the Bible we see all kinds of examples of how people prayed, in faith, in desperation, in pain, in joy. One of the verses that keeps coming back to me over and over is to pray without ceasing, so I have been on a bit of a journey about how to pray.

Jesus on Prayer

Dig into this subject at all and much starts to come out about the teaching of Jesus himself on the matter of prayer. I, and probably you, was taught the Lord’s prayer when I was too young to understand the words. We repeated it verbatim on a daily basis in school and at church. This kind of repetition can become exactly what Jesus talks about in the verse before the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:7, warning us not to use vain repetitions.

The Lord’s Prayer as a Model

Since Jesus did not want vain repetitions, he clearly wasn’t looking for us to keep saying the Lord’s prayer over and over, but rather to use it for a model, a basis for building our prayer that would be pleasing to the Lord. Like a good teacher, he gave us a structure to use that would place us in the right mind frame to form worshipful prayer.

Start with Reverence

The start of the Lord’s prayer is addressing our Father, ascribing him power, greatness and holiness. This is a good place to start in prayer. What I have been doing lately is to select a psalm and read it carefully for what it tells me about the nature of God. I let the psalm – God’s word to me – inform my heart about the character of God where I should focus my praise and adoration as I start my prayer.

This post is the first of a five part series on the Lord’s prayer. Please enter your email address over the the right to get the next part of the series. Tell me about your experiences with prayer in the comments!

Our Father in Heaven hallowed by your name

The Lord’s Prayer Series – First Reverence

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Love the Lord your God

Love the Lord your God

A Commandment

Jesus beautifully summarized the law for us in Matthew 22:37-39, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

This commandment to love is not a request, but a requirement of our Lord. I have read this passage over and over, thought about it many many times. I have wondered at its application, knowing its beyond my own strength and will.

The Different Meanings of Love

Love in our society has many meanings. When I was younger I thought primarily of romantic love, being overwhelmed in my senses and my emotions with this tremendous feeling. I didn’t think falling in love had too much to do with me, my actions, my thoughts, rather it was something that happened, a mystical thing.

There was also the love that I already had for family and friends, this love had either always been there, a constant force in my life, or commitment that had grown over time as a friend and I grew closer. These loves had strong elements of loyalty and commitment, but less of passion or a feeling of being overwhelmed.

Which of these kinds of love is God looking for in this passage? My modern understanding that there are different kinds of love reflects ancient ideas where they had actual words to reflect these ideas. Romantic love was called eros, brotherly love or affection was called phileo and there was yet another kind of love, a deep sacrificial kind of love, called agape. This is the kind of love that Jesus felt for us and that led him to the cross. This is the kind of love described in 1Cor 13.

Peter’s Love

Consider the story of Jesus and Peter meeting up after Jesus’ resurrection, this meeting gives some insight into agape love. The story in English is a little bit odd because we don’t have these different forms of the word, love. In English it has Jesus asking Peter three times if he loved him and Peter answering three times that he did. But in Greek, Jesus asks twice, do you love me with agape love, and Peter answers that he loves (only) with phileo love. At the end Jesus accepts this brotherly love, but goes on to prophesy that Peter will die in Jesus’ service. Indeed Peter would come to have a sacrificial, totally committed love, even though it was not in place at that moment.

Jesus accepted Peter where he was at, but knew that growth and change would happen over the course of an obedient committed life.

Pray to Love the Lord your God

Jesus, I long for you to be my ultimate treasure, give me strength and grace and power to do so.

Love Lord God

Love the Lord Your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul

This design is available for purchase at Fine Art America. Thank you to Rob Hamm for the beautiful photo.

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