|Luke 11:2||Matthew 6:9|
|“Father, . . .”||“Our Father in heaven. . . “|
I said in the last Gem, “A non-Christian has no right to pray the Lord’s Prayer. Of course many do and that is fine. I am just saying they have no right to pray it.” Some of you reacted to that and thought I was being parochial, partisan, unfair and a host of others things I won’t say. I am not being judgmental or setting myself up as the judge of other people’s motives. Of course I realize anybody can pray the Lord’s Prayer. That is why Jesus gave it to us, as we saw yesterday. Jesus gave it as an example of what to pray, should we wish to know. Christian or non-Christian alike. But my point is, it is relational. Prayer only really functions to its maximum effect, on the basis of relationship. Is He really your Heavenly Father? It is our relationship with God which gives us the right to be called children of God. That is my point!
Someone who has no relationship with God, is not in a strong position to pray. But do you know the Good News? While you were lost in your waywardness and willfulness, God loved you and reached out to you. God is no respecter of persons. But our entry point into his family is through belief in the Son of God.
But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.John 1:12
The promises of God and the prayers of God are for the family of God. Matthew’s version makes it clear that God is the Father of all believers. All who are the people of God. That is why I say the Lord’s Prayer is not for a non-Christian. But the wonder of it all is, that although that is true, God is ever ready to receive new family members. All that matters is that the response comes from your heart.
Notice the difference in Matthew’s Gospel. Where Luke has simply, “Father,” Matthew’s version reads, “Our Father in heaven” or “our heavenly Father” where the our is exclusive. Luke’s version seems to be for private use and not corporate use. The reading in Matthew fits the church setting or corporate body of Christ, but Luke’s version is sending a new message to the disciples. The intimacy they have witnessed, that Jesus has with the Father, can be their’s too. The relationship they observe that Jesus has with the Father can be their’s too. The basis of our individual relationships with God, our Father in heaven, is on the basis of Father and child. We get to call Him Father. That is an amazing privilege. I wrote about it in Gem 193 and 194. That relationship is yours or can be if you have not yet appropriated it. Christian, you have immediate access to the throne room of the universe. That’s something to get excited about and it is no tall story or fable. It is true. If you are “in Christ” that right is yours. If you are not “in Christ” then such privileges are not yours. [Oh there is much to that statement and I know many of you will want to debate that one. But I am not being drawn on that issue at this time.]
The other question we need to answer is: why is the element “in heaven” missing?
Matthew’s use of the phrase suggests:
- God’s Omnipresence. The heaven of heavens cannot contain You
- God’s Majesty and Dominion over his creatures.
- God’s Power and Might. You are the God of heaven, no created creature is able to withstand you.
- God’s Omniscience. The Lord’s throne is in heaven, His eyes are on all of His creation.
So why is it missing from Luke’s Gospel? There are some copies of Luke’s Gospel which have the phrase recorded but they are not the earliest or most reliable. The phrase has certainly been assimilated to the Majority Text family after the 13th or 14th Centuries. But that is typical of the work of scribes who wanted to harmonise the documents to ensure the reading in Luke was matched to Matthew’s reading. It is more likely that Luke’s reading is as we have it. “Father, hallowed be Your name.” The “our Father, in heaven,” is clearly set for corporate body use. This is a focus for the individual disciples. Don’t be upset about the missing section. No textual critic is playing with the text and seeking to make light of the name of God by removing the element “in heaven”. It is clear from Luke’s point of view who He is. But it is most likely that Luke just wrote, “Father” and no more. This can be considered to be the disciples’ personal version. After all, one of them has asked for “the words” to pray. Call Him “Father” because that is what / who He is. The intention here, I feel, is to remind them that they too have this relationship with Father God, that they witness between Jesus and the Father. To pick up on what I was saying in the last Gem, the intimacy you see Jesus had with the Father, can be yours too. Seek after it. Yearn for it. “You will seek Me and you will find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
Now that is a promise worth pursuing.
Are you God’s child? Is there a family resemblance on your Father’s side?Anon
The Christ of the Galaxies is the Christ of your Mondays. You have a friend in high places.Max Lucado
You as a Child of God have access rights to throne room of Heaven. You have a hot line to heaven. Use it.Ian Vail