“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven…’” Matt. 6:9, NIV
In a previous article, we looked at “our Father” and saw, with joy, that Jesus included us in His family relationship with God. No matter what our physical family experience has been on earth, we are part of God’s family if we have accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Not only that but other Christians are also our brothers and sisters in this family and we have to learn how to be rightly related to them.
The next statement is “in heaven.” Why? We know God is omnipresent - everywhere in His fullness at the same time. He is on earth and in the heavens simultaneously so why emphasize that our Father is “in heaven?”
The word “heaven” is used 284 times in the New Testament. Nearly half of those times are in the books of Matthew  and Revelation . Matthew, of course, speaks frequently of the “kingdom of heaven” which helps to explain why it is so common in his gospel. Another reason we see this word used so often is that is has different meanings. It can mean
1. the sky,
2. the place where the stars are
3. the universe or
4. the place where the angels and God live.
In the Lord’s Prayer it is referring to what we normally think of as heaven -i.e. where God lives. But back to our question: Why does The Lord’s Prayer [which is our model prayer] emphasize that our Father is “in heaven?”
1. One reason is to remind us of the difference between God and us. “Our” emphasized the family relationship we have through the blood of Jesus Christ with God. We are united with Him. We are in His family. But the “in heaven” reminds us that we are not God and, unlike what certain false religions teach, we will never become God. We are created in the likeness of God and we are in His family by adoption but we are not the same “stuff” as God. We are and always will be created beings. We need to remember, that although our relationship is close and loving, there are still differences that need to be respected. We have an intimate relationship but we are not to be flippant or take God for granted. He is to be worshipped, adored and respected. Emphasizing that He is “in heaven” reminds us of that.
2. Not only does being “in heaven” remind us of the respect that is due our Father, but also it reminds us of the greatness and majesty of our God. Our God is not some little god or deity that we can tip-toe around or sneak past. Our God created the universe. He holds it all in His hands [and we haven’t even found the edges of it yet!]. He keeps it all running perfectly. As we begin our prayers it is important to get a true image of Who our God really is and to Whom we are praying. Adoration and admiration will fill our hearts.
3. In line with the above point, seeing the greatness of God who dwells “in heaven” gives us confidence [when we are assured of the loving family relationship we have with Him] that He has the power, authority and ability to answer our prayers. It is easy to get our eyes on our problems and to see them as overwhelming - which they may be for us alone. Even a penny can blot out the sun if you put it close enough to your eye, but get things in proper perspective and what a difference…
Our Father is “in heaven.” He sees everything, nothing goes unnoticed. He is great and awesome. He loves us. When we see our problems in comparison with our God and His loving ability, they shrink into their proper perspective.
So let us come to Our Father in heaven…
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