Recently, the IDES staff family has been studying the Lord's Prayer together during our morning devotional meetings.
For the first point of the devotional series, we focused on the very first word of the prayer: "Our."
Initially, it took us by surprise to focus on a single word, as we are all so used to finishing the phrase, "Our Father in heaven." But, as the devotional continued, the reason to stop short on just the first word became profound to us.
The prayer reads in full like this in Matthew 6:9-13:
"Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil."
We recite it almost mechanically sometimes, don't we? Jesus was very specific in choosing words here. Each word and each clause is of utmost importance in understanding not only how we ought to pray, but also who God is and how we ought to treat others. So, we come back to the first word, a beautifully chosen pronoun, "Our."
Why didn't Jesus say, "My Father in heaven"? It's still correct, isn't it?
Why not, "Your Father in heaven"?
Why not, "The Father in heaven"?
Jesus specifically chose the pronoun, "Our." The significance of this cannot be missed.
God is more than just "my" Father, because He is the Creator of all the universe. In this scientific sense, He is "Father" to all things that are created. God is more than just "your" Father, because I desperately need Him just as much as the next person does. We are all in need of His grace and mercy. God is more than just "the" Father, because He is near to us and knows us each personally. He is not some aloof sky-god that lives in a far-away land in the clouds, having no dealings with his creatures below.
God is "OUR" Father. All of us, on the same level of neediness, personally in (or out) of relationship with Him.
You may notice that following this significant pronoun, all of the following pronouns in the prayer are also plural. "Give us...our...forgive us our...as we...our debtors...lead us not...deliver us..."
Jesus encourages us, then, to always remember that we are each a small part of a greater whole. God's universe is expansive. God's Church is global. We are members of a worldwide family of believers of many nations, races, and cultural backgrounds. This should remind us of the glimpse of the heavenly kingdom that John was blessed to see as recorded in Revelation 7:9-10, "After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, 'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'"
As we pray, we pray from within and on behalf of a community. Whether that community is our family, our friends, our coworkers, our local church, our global Church, or even our entire planet of sinful people -- our prayers reflect and affect those around us. Our relationship with God has much more to do with those around us than it does with ourselves. If we are praying in the will of God, the answer will be a blessing to all of God's people in one way or another.
Yes, God is through Christ Jesus our "personal Lord and Savior." But oh, He is so much more than just yours and mine! He is ours.
-written by Chase Cotten, Media Director at IDES,
with special thanks to David Stine, Director of Operations at IDES