Our Small Catechism excursion continues this week with a consideration of the seven petitions to the most profound prayer ever composed and then prayed. It is a superlative prayer because it was given and taught by our Lord Jesus himself. Of course I speak of the Lord’s Prayer, or what some folks call the “Our Father”.
But before we consider the petitions we will first note the way this prayer is addressed. “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples,” was what Jesus’ followers asked of him. And Jesus’ responded, “When you pray, say…” Jesus actually gives them the words to speak! (Lk. 11:1, 2) And the words for the address begin, “Our Father who art in heaven.”
It is hard to beat addressing God as Father! We often say “Heavenly Father” or “Father in heaven”. This is not the only address we can use. There are plenty of others in Scripture. Prayers can be addressed not only to the First Person of the Trinity, God the Father, but they can also be addressed to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. But it is very common in the life of the Church to Address the Almighty as Father, and then to offer the prayer through the Son and in the Spirit.
We should avoid addresses that are neither Scriptural nor commonly used throughout Church history. When Jesus’ name is used it is usually Lord Jesus or Christ Jesus. Talking to the man upstairs is problematic. And the “Father God” that I am hearing frequently is not the best. The Triune God is not a Father God. He is a Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Luther’s explanation for the Lord’s Prayer way of addressing God stands by itself. “Here God encourages us to believe that he is truly our Father and we are his children. We therefore are to pray to him with complete confidence just as children speak to their loving father.”
Since You Asked…
What is the significance of Christ the King Sunday?
The Festival of Christ the King marks the end of the long season after Pentecost, and it anticipates the day when Christ will return and be revealed to everyone as the rightful ruler of the world. The appointed lessons for the day make it clear that at the end of the age Christ will come in power and great glory. Previous to this we have known his gentle rule. We have known King Jesus as the one who shed his blood to free us from the grips of sin and death. But when he comes again in glory he will come to judge the living and the dead. There will then be no doubt as to who the sovereign of the cosmos is!