Series Title: "Pray Then, Like This"
When we come to the New Testament account of the life of Jesus, we see that he takes this well-known Jewish concept of the fatherhood of God and intensifies it even more so. In fact 107 times in the gospel of John alone, he speaks of God as Father. Further, Jesus illustrates for us the character of our Father in all he says and does, whoever sees me sees him who sent me.
Jesus gives one of the most thrilling characterizations of God's Fatherhood in a familiar parable. Though we call it the parable of the prodigal son but it is really about a merciful father who surprises us with his grace.
At every point, he does not do what the law requires or what custom would dictate. Instead, he does the exceptional thing; he shows grace and forgiveness. He puts himself at risk, and he humiliates himself for the sake of his son because he is a loving father.
That is what Jesus is trying to tell us about the One who created us, the One who has stamped us in his image. At every point, he will surprise us with his grace. He humiliates himself for you. He has done so in Jesus. He suffered for you, and he will care and provide for you because he is our Father.
As a result, we must cultivate a simple, straightforward devotion to Him when we pray. And we need to realize we are not beggars, we are sons and daughters of the Most High God. Not only does one need to have a heart for God, but one needs to have a mind for God. We are to pray with devotion and substance.
Listen to what Luke records Jesus saying after giving the prayer to his disciples. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:11-13)
So many misunderstand prayer. We think that somehow we have to persuade God in prayer; we have to overcome his reluctance. In actuality, what we have to do is to lay hold of his willingness! He is a good Father, and you will not come up empty when you approach him.
Jesus illustrates who the Father is to us. And it is because of Jesus’ relationship with his Father that you and I have our relationship with his Father. "Pray then, like this ... our Father."
In Luke 2 we find Jesus as a 12-year-old boy at the Temple. After three days his parents return to find him there. His mother is understandably distressed, and Jesus says to her, Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house? Here is something that is often missed. The sages, with whom Jesus was engaged in deep spiritual discussion, would have been intrigued by his use of my Father's instead of our Father’s house.
In that generation, it was understood that when Messiah arrives, he will have such intimacy with the God of creation that he would speak of him in the first person as my Father (Avi) rather than in the first person plural our Father (Avinu).” This was based on scriptures like, He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son (2 Samuel 7:13-14) and, The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you (Psalm 2:7).
Even at such a young age, Jesus identified himself as Israel's Messiah. And because Jesus could say Avi (my Father), you and I can confidently say Avinu (our Father).
Paul speaks of this great truth with wonder in Ephesians 2:18-22.
And he [Jesus] came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Because of who Jesus was and what he did, we undergo a second birth! Our first birth is to a human father and into a natural family. But then we have a spiritual birth to our Father in heaven and into a supernatural family. We are now part of God’s household.
That is why we call one another brothers and sisters, because our Father in heaven is the head of our house, and he is trying to get his children in order so he can come and visit the house and dwell there peaceably. The glory of his Spirit will be manifest in the family gathering.
Do you understand how unprecedented, how extraordinary this is, that the King of creation who stamps you with his image has put the Spirit of his Son within you?
Jesus beckons you to approach the high, mighty, and awesome God and say to him, “O Abba, hallowed be Your name. May your kingship rule and reign in me—let your will be done. Abba, thank you for giving me my needs today. Thank you for forgiving me, just as I forgive others. Abba, thank you that you save me from that inclination within me to do wrong and that you deliver me from the Evil One!”
You can see why Paul breaks out in praise. Who can comprehend this, that we—nobodies, pagans, those far off—should be able to approach the King of all creation and address him by this very familiar, intimate term Abba. It is a term of affection; a term of intimacy. Abba means Daddy.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" - Romans 8:15
My friends, I want to say to you, would you please start boasting about your Father in heaven? Would you find ways to boast about him—declare great things about him? He is God, and he alone is God! And in Jesus, he is your Father.
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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.
Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.
Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.