Guest Post – Our Father in Heaven

lordprayer

-Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV) 

Please note: The views & opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of LifeWay Christian Resources.

This passage starts with what is commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer. It is an excellent prayer model. Yes, it is also an excellent prayer, worthy to recite as Jesus rendered it. However, this passage is also a model to follow. It is a blueprint to prayer and is something we can pattern our prayer life after.

Since this is a prayer model, we should strive to understand as much about each word and each phrase that we can. If we want to translate this prayer into our daily lives, then we must reach a deepened understanding of what is being communicated.

Our

This word shows the collectivity of a group. It lets us know that Jesus was not condemning corporate prayer earlier in his teaching (see Matt. 6:5-6). However, this also shows that God is my God, and my brother’s God, and Billy Graham’s God and the apostle Paul’s God. While we may think God may hear someone else’s prayers better than our own, we all have equal access to our God.

Father

As twenty-first century Christians, we readily understand the Fatherhood of our God. However, this was a head turner when Jesus taught his disciples. Jewish culture customarily prayed to The Lord God instead of Father God.

The King of the Universe, who was to be approached in formality, now became the Father, a personal God within each individual’s grasp. God wanted to have intimacy with each disciple, and wants to have intimacy with each of us. We all have equal personal access to our relational God.

In Heaven

This phrase sparked something in the minds of the disciples that we may miss as modern day Christians. We have briefly discussed cross-references and their importance in Jewish teaching. The disciples may have heard this verse enter their minds upon hearing the phrase, “in heaven”:

Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. Why do the nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him. – Psalm 115:1-3 (NIV)

Pagans would attempt to invoke certain actions from their gods by observing various rituals and praying specific prayers. This is why Jesus was teaching his disciples to choose their words in prayer. In addition, he was also teaching that the Father intimately knows each and everyone’s needs even before they ask; unlike the pagan gods (see Matt. 6:7-8).

The Lord God cannot be influenced as the pagan gods. He chooses what He wants, and acts when He desires to act. This unlimited power contained in the God of Israel is not reserved for humans to manipulate.

In conclusion, Jesus invited the disciples to a personal relationship with the unlimited power of the universe found in The Lord God of Israel. We should know we all have equal personal access to the all-powerful God.

In our prayers, we are to remember that God desires a close relationship with us. We are also to remember that he is going to do what He sees fit. Therefore, if our prayers are not answered in the way we would like, we should rest knowing that God is in control.

How do you follow the Lord’s prayer as a prayer model? Share with us!

This post was part of a complete series of posts teaching parts of The Lord’s Prayer. You can find the other posts below:

  1. Hallowed Be Your Name
  2. Your Kingdom Come. Your Will Be Done.
  3. Give Us Our Daily Bread. Forgive Us Our Sins.
  4. Lead Us Not Into Temptation. Deliver Us From Evil.

bradandresBrad Andres is a licensed minister. He is the author of The Scripture Reader’s Manifesto and a regular contributor to Prayers-For-Special-Help.com. His passion is to help people understand the Bible and maximize their God given potential for life. To hear more of Brad’s thoughts, check out his website at BradAndres.com, find him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, or circle him on Google+.

 

Guest Post – Does Seventy-Seven Times Equal 490?

77Understanding cross-references is important for the preacher and teacher. Cross-references often add life, meaning and depth to a passage of Scripture.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” – Matt 18:21-22 NIV

The common footnote in this verse explains “seventy-seven times” as “seventy times seven.” Most of us realize that seventy times seven (490) is much larger than seventy-seven (77). However, are we missing the point of what Jesus was saying?

A common method of rabbinical communication during Jesus’ time was cross-referencing. Specifically, when Rabbis would mention even a couple words from a verse of Scripture, it would bring to mind ideas, emotions and teachings associated with the verse from which it was mentioned.

In our example, “seventy-seven times” is a quote back to Genesis:

Lamech said to his wives, 

‘Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech, hear my words. I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times. – Genesis 4:23-24 NIV

Lamech was a descendant of Cain, the murderer of his brother Abel. Earlier in Genesis 4, the story of Cain killing his brother in a fit of jealousy and rage is recounted. Immediately following the retelling is this quote from Lamech on avenging seventy-seven times.

The hearers of Jesus’ teaching this day would have known this Scripture reference. They would have had a mental picture of Cain and Lamech, and their thirst for out of control vengeance. Their hunger for over the top payback would have been in their thinking while listening to Jesus.

Also, the number seven throughout Genesis and Scripture symbolized completeness, finality. Lamech’s intention is this: If someone broke his arm, he would snap their neck. He was eager to pay back double, or triple. He would go one up or further on any offense committed towards him.

Now here’s the punch line of Jesus’ teaching: We should be as eager to forgive far beyond any offense towards us as Lamech was eager to repay any offense towards him. Our forgiveness should be far above the sin, just as Lamech’s revenge was far above the offense. We should unleash forgiveness as Lamech unleashed vengeance. 

This whole forgiveness teaching doesn’t focus on the amount of forgiveness. The main point is our inner drive to forgive. The invisible heart of ours that we are often so reluctant to face is the focus. Our desires should be to forgive without restraint. Then we are forgiving as Jesus’ taught. 

Who knew that forgiving seventy-seven times meant much more than forgiving as often as you can?

Please God, help me to change. Help my desires to match your Word. Help me to want to forgive in an uncontrolled and unrestrained fashion. Thank you.

What cross-references have you discovered that gave you further insight into a passage of Scripture?

bradandresBrad Andres is a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God. He is the author of The Scripture Reader’s Manifesto and a regular contributor to Prayers-For-Special-Help.com. His passion is to help people understand the Bible and maximize their God given potential for life. To hear more of Brad’s thoughts, check out his website at BradAndres.com, find him on Facebook, follow him onTwitter, or circle him on Google+.