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Our Father who is in heaven

These are the familiar opening words of what we call "The Lord's Prayer." Perhaps you are more familiar with the KJV "Our Father who art in heaven." In either case, it is the address by which Jesus taught us to open our prayers to God. It was very gracious of Jesus to give us this simple and magnificent model for prayer. It is much like a parent leading a child through the letters of the alphabet in order to learn to read. Jesus knows that prayer will be essential in our relationship with God, and that we will need basic instruction to learn how to pray. So, in the verses of Matthew 6:9-13 we have a model prayer that we can quickly memorize and recite, but also one that provides several important requests we ought to have for Him. It was also very gracious of the Lord Jesus to invite us to pray to His Father in heaven as our own. Jesus might have instructed to pray to "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," but instead taught us to pray to our Father. God in heaven cannot be properly called Father by all people. Only we who are born of Him by His grace, according to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, can properly call Him our Father. It is a relationship shared with us by Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son. So when we pray to God as our Father, we do so humbly because we know only by His grace through Jesus Christ are we able to do so. We are also mindful to address our Father "who is in heaven." Heaven is His proper dwelling place. There is a real distinction between heaven and earth. God is present everywhere at all times. So it would be correct to say that God is on earth and God is also in heaven. But it would be incorrect to say that God is on earth just as He is in heaven, or God is on earth in the very same way He is in heaven. God's presence on earth is a veiled presence. It is veiled by the sinfulness of this present world. He is not seen, worshipped or obeyed in this present world as He is in heaven. So, when we address God our Father, we do so remembering that He dwells fully in heaven in a way that He does not yet dwell on this earth. But we also remember that He has promised a time to come when He will be present on earth exactly as He is in heaven. We pray to Him eagerly anticipating that day, and that anticipation is expressed in the first three requests Jesus taught us to make to Him. We will examine these requests next time. But for now, let me ask you, is God your Father in heaven? He can only be your Father through Jesus Christ. Ask Jesus Christ to forgive your sins, ask Him for the eternal life He can give you, and ask Him for permission to call His Father your own.

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