October 21, 2018 • Life for Leaders
“This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…”
In Luke 11, Jesus’s disciples ask him to teach them how to pray. As a response, Jesus provides them with a broad template to help them construct lives of prayer. While this prayer is reflected in Luke 11, I believe that the more expansive account reflected in Matthew 6 is more useful for our purposes. When Jesus begins his teaching, he strategically starts with two important words: “Our Father.”
Why did Jesus use the specific word father? He could have used the general description of God. He could have also instructed them to use the formal address of King, or Sovereign, or even Lord. Any of these terms would have been right or acceptable, yet Jesus encourages them to address him as Father. Contrary to modern popular ideals on teaching, Jesus gets right to the point in disclosing what his secret ingredient was to effective prayer—intimacy. This posture of approaching God from a place of intimacy made his prayer seem different and appealing to his disciples. They hadn’t seen many templates like it. For Jesus, prayer was an experience—an intimate transaction—that resulted in strength and produced power. His nod to God as Father indicated that the proper posture in approaching God is one that promotes intimacy.
Intimacy as a Prayer Posture
Adam and Eve had it good in the beginning. The account in Genesis gives us a picture of God and Adam enjoying unhindered dialogue and fellowship. This was the epitome of intimacy and proximity. Their constant communication lets us see that proximity was possible and preferable between humans and an invisible God. In fact, proximity was so important to God that it was at the heart of his first question to Adam after the premier couple ate of the fruit of the forbidden tree. God asks Adam, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). God never asks a question that he doesn’t already know the answer to. In essence, he was really asking Adam to consider his position proximate to God. To be clearer, God was saying, “Adam, we used to be so close and aligned, why did you move?”
We should never underestimate how God values proximity to his creation. Everything God has done throughout the scriptures has been to help restore the intimacy and nearness that was lost in Eden. This longing to be close to use is why God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins. Christ’s atoning death tore the veil and gave us the possibility to be near God again. So when Jesus instructs his disciples to start off their prayer by addressing God as Father, he is giving them the guide to God’s heart.
Prayer becomes a meaningful experience when we move past viewing it as a routine box to check, and instead approach it from the posture of intimacy. When you kneel in prayer, you are kneeling before your father who created you with all the possible grace and intentionality that could exist. You are approaching the most trusted voice in your life. Therefore, there should be nothing hidden between you and God, and nothing that goes unsaid in your trusted and unfiltered dialogue. Effective prayer starts with intimacy.
God, how privileged we are to be your sons and daughters. It is amazing how attentive and mindful you are of each and every person you created. Teach us how to embrace a posture of intimacy when we approach you. We admit that sometimes it is hard to relinquish our trust and control, so help our unbelief. We stand confidently in your presence, feeling your love, and we embrace you as our Father. Amen.