“The Lord’s Prayer” or “Our Father” is one of the best known and most often recited portions of Scripture (Matthew 6:9-13). The words of this prayer have united Christians throughout history and across denominational lines. Over the next several weeks this devotional blog will reflect on the significance of these words.
“Father” is a relational word. Jesus could have used a myriad of ways to address God. He chose “Our Father.” The prayer was likely originally spoken by Jesus in Aramaic, his native language. When Matthew recorded these words, he translated them into Greek. The Greek word we translate “Father” likely translated the Aramaic word abba. The term abba was often used by young and adult children to endearingly refer to their earthly father. It could just as easily be translated into our vernacular as “dad.”
Prayer has been described as conversation. But, it may be even more rudimentary than that. For, it is not a conversation for a business transaction or mere information; it is a relational conversation. Think about the relationships that have waxed and waned throughout your lifetime. Those relationships were probably strongest when you had the most engagement with that person. Facebook provides an illustration. You can find out lots of information about someone from Facebook: what that person does with their free-time, if someone in their family had a baby or passed away, what makes them happy and sad, and other tidbits of information. However, knowing about that person is not the same as truly knowing them. You need to IM them or, better yet, call them, or even better, spend time with them. As one theologian put it, “When people stop praying, that is, stop talking with God and cease living and breathing in his fellowship, then all they are doing is talking about God.” Prayer, at its heart, is about relationship with our Heavenly Father.
The word “hallowed” is rarely used today. It means “to be made holy.” When we speak of a person or item as being holy, we mean that person or item has in some way be set apart to God. Holiness in regard to God speaks of his transcendence over all creation and his awesome majesty. When we pray, “Hallowed by thy name,” we are praying, “May we come to know you not as we want you to be but as you truly are.” We are praying to more intimately know his transcendence and majesty. At the heart of prayer is relationship: “You’re my Dad in heaven; I’m your child; let’s get together.”