“Call Me Dad”
By Fin Sheridan
“Jesus, teach us to pray.”
It’s worth noting that, of all the things that the disciples could’ve asked Jesus to help them with, they asked for help with prayer. Not performing miracles, not how to preach, not leadership, not even help with overcoming sin. Maybe that’s because, as Luke 11:1 tells us, they had just watched Jesus pray.
I wonder what that was like? To see the fully human, yet still fully divine Son talking with God. I bet the disciples saw it, remembered their own prayers and saw the space. No wonder they asked for some insight. Who wouldn’t?
Jesus then offers them the most famous prayer in the world: the Lord’s Prayer. It’s worth exploring again what JI Packer calls “a pattern for all Christian praying”. Augustine said that “Whatever else we say when we pray… we are only saying what is already contained in the Lord’s Prayer”. It’s a deep well of wisdom and we should regularly return to it.
“All of the Lord’s Prayer hinges on the audacious claim that human beings can call an almighty God “Father”.”
Firstly, Jesus begins, we should say “Father”. Rather than begin with grand attributes, excessive verbal adornment or formal greetings, we should start with intimacy. We should call him Dad. The extent to which we believe this first word will determine how much we trust him for the rest of the prayer.
If we don’t see him as father, how can we trust him to provide daily bread? Without the expectation of loving forgiveness, he would be the last person we would want to take our sins to. All of the Lord’s Prayer hinges on the audacious claim that human beings can call an almighty God “Father”.
It can take time to let this approach fully sink in. Whatever our experiences of earthly parents, we can still struggle to accept the intimacy that Jesus offers us in the Lord’s Prayer. It’s a new default for us. We dare to believe that it could possibly be true. The best news in the world is that it is!