Our Father who art in heaven. Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
“Our Father who art in heaven”
Probably more people pray than are able to define prayer, or know for sure to whom it is that they are praying. Probably the best known prayer is what Christians know as the Lord’s Prayer.
So what is prayer? The dictionary definition is: “the act of asking for a favor with earnestness; a petition.” We like to define prayer as “a child of God speaking to His Father.” Such speaking includes petition as well as thanksgiving. Christian prayer is at the same time an “act of worship.”
Christian prayer is addressed to the Triune God. In the uniqueness of the Godhead He is the Creator of all that is and the Preserver of what He has created. He is the Redeemer of the world and the Savior of all who believe in Him. He is the Sanctifier who creates, sustains, and nourishes faith through the Word of the gospel.
The God of heaven has given to His children the right and privilege to call upon Him in prayer. He invites His children to come boldly before the throne of grace to find help in time of need. Since God commands us to pray as well as invites us to do so, and since He has promised to hear those who call upon him in faith, prayer is more than words flung into the air in the vague hope that they will reach divine ears somewhere in the cosmos. Prayer is the confident expression of the child of God who believes that, as he asks things of God that have to do with this life, the Heavenly Father will answer according to His will.
Further, prayer is the confident expression of a child of God who trusts that the spiritual blessings necessary for salvation for which he asks come to pass, since it is the Father’s good pleasure in Christ to give the believer such blessings. For that reason prayer is offered in Christ through the mediatorship of Jesus.
On this earth one can honestly call that one father whose father he is either by birth or by adoption. So also with respect to the Heavenly Father. We are told in the Gospel of John: “But as many as received Him (Jesus), to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (1:12). In Galatians we read: “For you are all the sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (3:26). So only they can call the God of heaven “Father” whose Father He is. Jesus amplified this in John 17: “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your Word” (17:6). In John 8 we are told: “If you continue in my Word, then are you my disciples indeed…” (8:31).
When Jesus taught the Lord’s Prayer–so called because He taught it –He did not teach it to the world which knows Him not, but to the disciples. Scripture is very clear. In Luke 11 we read: “And it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.’ So He said to them, ‘When you pray, say: Our Father which art in heaven…” (11:1-2).
As we study the Lord’s Prayer which consists of seven petitions, we shall see that it is the grandest of all prayers not only because it is from the lips of our Lord Himself, but also because it encompasses all things for which a child of God could pray. Martin Luther said: ” . . . for the Lord has composed the Lord’s Prayer for us in this compact manner and has included in it every need that may arise in all our trials…” (What Luther Says, Vol. II, p. 791, 2459)
The Lord has given the faith, the privilege, and the prayer. He has promised to hear all who call upon Him in the name of Jesus, the Savior. The Father delights in the prayers of His children. They are blessed who “ask Him as dear children ask their dear father.”
–Pastor Daniel Fleischer
THE INTRODUCTION Our Father who art in heaven. What does this mean? God would by these words tenderly invite us to believe that He is our true Father, and that we are His true children, so that we may with all boldness and confidence ask Him as dear children as their dear father. --DR. MARTIN LUTHER'S Small Catechism Concordia Publishing House, 1943 The Address "Our Father, who art in heaven." What does this mean? With these words God tenderly encourages us to believe that He is our true Father and we are His true children, so that we may ask Him boldly and with complete confidence as dear children ask their dear father. --MARTIN LUTHER'S SMALL CATECHISM by Pastor Mike Sydow, 1988