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"Our Father" - unpacking the significance

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he taught them what we know as the Lord's Prayer.  it is a relatively short prayer but it has incredible depth and riches.  One of the things I often do with the Lord's prayer is to pray it through quietly and see which phrase seems to be highlighted for me. 

Many times I don't get beyond the first two words - 'Our Father'.  Sometimes it leads me to reflect on who God is as our perfect heavenly Father.  Other times I am struck by the 'Our'.  I'm not just praying for me, and if I am having a difficulty with someone, I'm not praying to 'my' Father to do do something about 'them'.  The 'Our' reminds me that it is not just about my individual relationship with God (as important as that is).  The 'Our' also reminds me that the people around me have God as their Father too, and that makes them siblings.

The extent of the 'Our' was highlighted to me recently as I was reading one of Paul's prayers.  It is recorded in Ephesians just after a passage where he was teaching about the fact that through the gospel, everybody - Gentiles and Jews - are together heirs of God's promise (a contentious idea at the time):
 
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.... (Eph 3:14,15)

So now sometimes I will pray:

Our Father, of every family on earth, hallowed be your name
Your kingdom come...

 

David Wanstall, 05/02/2013