Say “Our Father” [30 Days of Prayer]

Summer of Prayer Ads_Banner“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven.’” (Matthew 6:9)

Jesus’ approach to prayer is strongly rooted in his relationship with God as Father. Three times in Matthew 6:6-8, Jesus refers to “your Father”; twice in verse 6 and once in verse 8.  The idea of approaching God as Father isn’t entirely new with Jesus. We encounter God referred to as Father numerous times in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 32:6; Isaiah 63:16). Even in some Jewish literature written between the times of the Old and New Testaments, God is called Father.

However, what is new with Jesus is that He says the primary way of relating with God is as our Father.  When questioned about His authority, Jesus responds to His critics in this way: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19). When at the tomb of His good friend, Lazarus, Jesus calls out in prayer: “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me” (John 11:41-42). Even in the agony of the Garden of Gethsemane before the Cross, Jesus speaks to God with this intimate address: “‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will’” (Mark 14:36).

Jesus’ relationship with God is characterized as a unique Father-Son relationship.

In one of the most important parts of Scripture on this theme, Jesus prays in Matthew 11 this way: “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11: 27). Jesus says that as the Son, only those who know Him can enter into that same relationship with God as Father.  By the gift of Jesus Christ we can not only know about God and receive salvation but actually enter into that same intimate and powerful relationship of the Father and the Son. We come right into the middle of that unique relationship that exists between God the Father and Jesus the Son, and we are now part of that community because of Jesus.

That is why Jesus begins the teaching on prayer that we know as the Lord’s Prayer in this way: “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9). When we pray we must know to whom we are praying.  Because of Jesus’ unique relationship to the Father – and because of salvation for us through Jesus – God is now our Father as well. This is the central theme of the Christian life with God. It is the central reality of the life of prayer.

Our Father,
  what a wonderful gift
that through the Only Son, Jesus Messiah,
  we too can address You so personally.
Thank You that You know
  what we need before we pray.
Thank You that, as a good Father,
  You give us better gifts
than any earthly father
  could every give to us.
Thank You that though our earthly parents
  are imperfect and sometimes fail,
You are a good, good Father
  who is perfect and never fails.

[This post is part of the “30 Days of Prayer” devotional. Read other posts here.]

Wide: Changed with People (discussion questions)

Jesus Changes Everything Series Gfx_ThumbHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Wide: Changed with People,” which is the third part of our series “Jesus Changes Everything” at Eastbrook Church.

  1. Answer one of the following questions:
    • Who do you find it most difficult to love? Why?
    • When have you felt most loved in your life? Why was that?
  1. This week in our series, “Jesus Changes Everything,” we look at various Scripture passages in order to better understand what it means to love people like God. Whether you are on your own or with a small group, begin your study in prayer and ask God to draw you into His truth and life.
  1. In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus summarizes all the commandments of God with the call to love God with all of who we are and our neighbor as ourselves. In 1 John 4:9, the Apostle John tells us that God showed His love among us by sending His Son into the world. What do you think it means to learn about love from Jesus?
  1. Take a moment to read Matthew 4:1-11. Before His public ministry, the devil tests Jesus to accomplish God’s purposes in a manner that was not God’s way. What were the main temptations placed before Jesus? How did He resist these temptations?
  1. In contrast to the devil’s temptation, we want to learn how Jesus actually exhibits God’s love to the world. One way to do this would be to read through one of the Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) and highlight or write down notes on how you see Jesus relating to people. For the sake of this study, let’s just look at four chapters of the Gospel of John. Read through each of these chapters and identify specific characteristics of Jesus’ love for others:
    • John 3:1-21 – Jesus with Nicodemus, the religious teachers
    • John 4:1-38 – Jesus with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well
    • John 5:1-15 – Jesus with the invalid at the Bethesda Pool
    • John 9:1-41 – Jesus with the man born blind and the religious leaders
  1. Stepping back from everything you just read, what do you notice most about Jesus’ love for others?
  1. What is one specific way that you need to grow in love that looks like Jesus’ love for people? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and then take extended time to pray about what you share. If you are studying on your own, write it down, pray about it, and share this with someone during the next few days.

Wide: Changed with People

Jesus Changes Everything Series Gfx_Web Header
I continued our series “Jesus Changes Everything” this weekend at Eastbrook Church by looking at what it means to have wide love like God. I cannot think of a better way to get at what God’s wide love looks like than to look at Jesus, who is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15).

You can watch the message here or subscribe to our audio podcast, following along with the outline below. You can also follow the entire series at our web-site.

If you’re interested in getting to know us more at Eastbrook, please take a moment to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Vimeo. You could also join our community by downloading the Eastbrook app.

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