More Thoughts from The Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:9-13.
Jesus exhorted us to begin our prayers with “Our Father who is in heaven.” We have discussed the words “our” and “Father.” Today, we will consider the word “heaven” as it relates to “Father.”
The word Father brings God to us. We can relate to Him because we know what Father means. However, when we say “who is in heaven,” we refer to His greatness. The word “heaven” opens up to us the vast expanses of the universe. Our heavenly Father transcends all that is earthly. God, our Father, created it all and rules over everything. Our heavenly Father is not just an earthly father. As much as we admire our human fathers, our heavenly Father is infinitely greater.
Our Father in heaven is perfectly holy, just, loving, and merciful. His love for us surpasses any human love. This love was expressed in the giving of His Son for us. At the same time, His justice is without equal. Even when He disciplines, it is with our best interest at heart. Moreover, God is all-powerful. He knows all. He is present everywhere. We need not fear that we will ever be alone. Much of the poetry of the Bible describes His greatness.
What does this mean when we pray? It means we pray with great confidence in Him. We know that God will answer us in accordance with His will. Also, when we pray, we know that God wants to develop His image in us. Our destiny (Rom. 8:29) is to become like Christ.
When we come to faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit indwells us in an objective sense. As long as we follow the Lord, He is present in us. We may or may not “feel” His presence at the moment. However, we have the glorious privilege of subjectively experiencing His presence throughout our lives.
This subjective experience is continuous and is inclusive of special moments, measures of impact on us, and repeated instances. Even though the Spirit is always present with us, the New Testament uses terms such as “filled” with more than one experience. For example, Peter was “filled” with the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4). Later, before the High Priest, Peter was “filled” with the Spirit to speak. The Spirit was already in Him, but He was “filled” on both occasions. The New Testament does not use the term “refilled.” I believe Luke would just use the term “filled” to indicate successive moments. Another way of speaking about the ongoing experience is to talk about the various works and gifts of the Spirit. Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to “kindle afresh” the gift of God which was in Him is such an instance. The language of the New Testament about the Spirit is amazingly flexible.
George M. Flattery, Ed.D., is the founder of Global University and Network211.