“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” – NIV
Occasionally in the Old Testament, God is referred to as Father, but He is never addressed in prayer as Father. Jesus’ intimate opening to prayer seen in Matthew may have completely stunned every single one of His listeners. They might not have been surprised to hear Him say “My Father”, since He clearly had some special relationship with the Almighty…But, to instruct His disciples to address God this way…was He out of His mind?!
That level of familiarity made God out to be accessible and affectionate – not easy concepts for those of us who were…and are…steeped in formal religion.
We often take this opening to the Lord’s Prayer to be a prelude of sorts, not unlike the salutation in a letter. But this particular salutation is actually the entire root of our faith. It is full of intrigue and a little mystery. There we are, waiting to get to the “good” part of prayer; the part about us, but this opening line is actually the best part of all.
This one line captures both the closeness of God and His unreachable distance. We cannot afford to skim over this. It will be our eternal obsession, Our Father in heaven.
The greatest commandment – to love our transcendent Father with all of our being –