Our Father in Heaven – Matthew 6:9b

With the Lord’s Prayer, in Mat 6 and Luke 11, Jesus teaches a universal declaration that a new community of hope and reconciliation is forming. This prayer is curiously relevant to all people in every culture throughout history – in all circumstances and in every season of life. It is a work of both literary and sacred genius.

It would be a betrayal to pray “My Father,” for the prayer of Jesus is not only a declaration of a heavenly parent, but initiates a new perspective of family intent on forsaking the land of “ME” and entering a promised land of “WE.” In this land of promise the God of the universes has reached down to us with an invitation to know and be known.

Prologue — Matthew 6:5-8

5″And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

1. Pray Sincerely: (v.5) Don’t be as the hypocrites who desired to only appear sincere (they were posers).

2. Pray Secretly

  • (v.6) Find a quiet, alone place to regularly connect with God.
  • (v.7) Don’t fall into the trap of meaningless repetition. This is where we build the quiet center…and learn how to be quiet before God, cultivating the ear of our hearts where we learn how to hear the voice of God calling us his beloved.
  • (v.8) God knows our needs before we ask. God’s ready to give us good gifts, God just enjoys – and seeks those moments of closeness.
  • Brennan Manning, author of the The Ragamuffin Gospel, says that prayer is “holy loitering.”
  • Contemplative spirituality is learning how to linger in the text of Scripture for the purpose of transformation and not just information. Asking how does this text comfort, encourage, &/or challenge me?
  • Thomas Aquinas said that contemplation is the simple enjoyment of the truth.
  • Christian meditation: The act of turning our knowledge about God into knowledge of God? (JI Packer)
  • One author said that prayer is disrobing our souls before God – this is who I really am…

3. Pray Specifically – The Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13)

  • Vs 9-10 are prayer for the establishment of God’s purposes on a cosmic scale
  • Vs. 11-15 are prayer for the personal (corporate) needs of current and future disciples.

9“This, then, is how you should pray: ” ‘Our Father in heaven” (“in heaven” does not signify a zip code, but a vantage point.)

The Father Wound
1. Many of us have less than perfect relationships with our earthly fathers and many people have great difficulty transitioning to viewing God as a good and loving father.
2. Regardless of parental devotion, no parent can fulfill all of the child’s wants, needs, or desires.
3. While these wounds can be inflicted with intent, many are unintentional yet still affect the child throughout life.
4. Children’s first impressions about men come from their early experiences with their father – or the lack thereof.

5. The Father/Daughter — The Father-Daughter relationship forms the daughter’s opinions of what men are — or should be, how they should act, especially towards her, and how she should be with them. The father’s behavior towards women shapes the way she learns to relate to men. If the father withdrew his affection at the time she entered puberty, the wound only goes deeper. Did your father model how to give and receive affection and tenderness while demonstrating the proper use of strength and power? Part of the father’s responsibility is to lovingly prepare his daughter for the major shifts that take place as she moves from child to adolescent to young woman and beyond. Unfortunately, many father’s, themselves, had trouble adjusting and many others just weren’t available to teach her to venture out from the protected realm of the home to deal with each new phase and its physical and social adjustments.

3. The Father/Son — This relationship forms the son’s opinions of how he is supposed to act and how he should treat women. Too often, however, the father wasn’t around to present a healthy model for his son. Today, men have had to face the confusing challenge of learning to balance power with sensitivity, strength with feeling, and mind with heart all on their own.

Andrew Comiskey, in his book on sexual and relational healing entitled Strength in Weakness writes, “Though the Father intended for us to be roused and sharpened by our fathers, we find more often than not that our fathers were silent and distant, more shadow than substance in our lives.” This kind of a “shadow” presence is not what our heavenly Father intended for our relationships with our earthly fathers.

Jack Balswick, in his book Men at the Crossroads writes, “Tragically, many young men are growing up without a father who will affirm their leap into manhood…Often the voices they do hear are distortions of true manhood.” Because so many boys do not have a father affirming their “leap into manhood,” that transition is often filled with feelings of fear, anger and frustration, instead of confidence and security. Lonely and discouraged, boys become isolated and alienated men. In this isolated state, men continue to desire closeness and connection, but they often have no concept of how to achieve it. It is because of this quandary that many men seek out sexual fantasy in an attempt to find some sense of intimacy. Many men feel a void in their lives, often created by the wounds of the past, and some men attempt to fill that void with illicit sexuality. Men’s desire for intimacy and connection is real, powerful, and appropriate. But when men try to satisfy that desire in the form of sexual fantasies and acts, they find merely approximations or shadows of true relationship and connection.

Luke 15:11-31The Parable of the Prodigal Sons confronts our false assumptions about what pleases God.

Healing the Father Wound
1. Surrender to the Father’s initiating love.

  • The father moves toward both sons… in order to express his love and bring them in.
  • It’s not repentance that causes the father’s love – but the reverse. It’s surrendering to the father’s love that brings about repentance.

2. Refuse to be emotionally passive. (This was primarily the sin of the older brother, but the traveling prodigal was willing to resign himself to this.)

  • Emotional Passivity — Repressed, self-imposed oppression of emotions based on an unmet longing for acceptance – usually from our fathers. This repression, or self-imposed oppression, generates anger that if allowed to turn inward will eventually express itself as either chronic depression, or passive-aggressive behavior.
  • Awakening the passive soul begins with confessing the sin of deadening our soul and making conscious choices to (go ahead and) feel the sadness, the grief, the sorrow — and ultimately the joy. (We have learned some of the principles of healthy grief and loss from EHC)
  1. Sadness opens the heart to what was meant to be and is not.
  2. Grief opens the heart to what was not meant to be and is.
  3. Sorrow breaks the heart as it exposes the damage we’ve done to others as a result of our unwillingness to wildly pursue God’s grace and truth.

3. Refuse to mistrust.

  • Reengages the God given desire to be concerned about the temporal and eternal destiny of those who have harmed us. This transfers trust to God and releases us to care, to be kind, and to authentically comfort others.
  • It is not being gullible or stupid – “be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Mat. 10:16).
  • To care is to use all that we are for the good of others while not walling off the deep parts of our soul.
  • The process towards deep caring begins with admitting there is sadness.
  • Grief admits there are scars that can be removed only in heaven.
  • Godly sorrow begins to develop when we begin to see that our demand for God to prove He cares is a mockery of the Cross (which sufficient proof of His trustworthiness).

4. Refuse to deny passion.

  • Passion can be defined as the deep response of the soul to life: the freedom to rejoice and the freedom to weep.
  • A refusal to deny, or despise, passion embraces both pain and pleasure.
  • A fear of passion makes it nearly impossible to be fully present with other people.
  • It’s refusing to flee back into the numbing – whatever that is
  • It is admitting that while I may be a mess, I AM ALIVE!

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