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Catechism Class: Lord’s Day 46, Q120-121


Catechism Class: Lord’s Day 46, Q120-121

LD46 –  Our Father, who art in heaven.

On Sunday 3rd January 2021 the 117th Congress of the United States of America was convened in Washington, and in accordance with tradition, the inauguration of the Congress was concluded with prayer.  The person chosen to pray was Democrat Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver, a representative from Missouri and an ordained United Methodist pastor.  The United Methodists are one of the most liberal denominations in America.  The Congressman ended his congressional prayer with this sentence,  “We ask it in the name of the monotheistic God… God known by many names and by many different faiths. Amen, and awoman.”  None of that is true.  God is not ‘known’ by many different names and nor is he ‘known’ by many different faiths

USA Capital Building, Washington DC.

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, He told them exactly how they are to approach him, what they are to say and how they are to address him.  The Heidelberg catechist instructs us on what we should say when come to God in prayer…

To Listen to this lesson as a PODCAST PLEASE CLICK HERE.

We’ve started to look at the various petitions in the Lord’s Prayer, and of course the first of these is “Our Father which art in heaven…”. So what has the catechist to teach us about this petition?  Read Luke 11:11-13 

Q120. Why has Christ commanded us to address God as our Father? A. To awaken in us at the very beginning of our prayer that childlike reverence and trust toward God which should be basic to our prayer: God has become our Father through Christ and will much less deny us what we ask of him in faith than our fathers would refuse us earthly things.

Let’s look a little deeper into his answer.  We address God as our father at the beginning of our prayers…

  • To make us think like children!  Now you may think that we should think as sophisticated adults when we approach God in prayer, but that’s not what we are taught.  In fact Paul refers to our coming before God using the diminutive term Abba…. Romans 8:15   Galatians 4:6   And remember that Jesus himself prayed this way, when speaking to that same heavenly father,  Mark 14:36 Remember that you cannot come to Christ, except as a little child would come, with simple childlike trust in a parent, and that attitude must prevail in our prayers, right throughout the Christian life.   
  • To remind us of our adoption into God’s family.  God is our father, in that he created us, but when Adam sinned, and the fall occurred, mankind became estranged from God, we are born into this world as sinners, the children of the devil, but remember that when we are saved, through grace alone, we are brought into the family of God.  Not that we deserve to be in his family, we are not natural born sons and daughters, we are ADOPTED CHILDREN, given all the privileges of family membership, the rights of inheritance and belonging.  Ephesians 1:4-5  So we address God as our FATHER.
  • To assure us that our prayers WILL be answered.  Because our earthly father cares for us, he will do what is right for us.  It’s a poor father who would make a fool of his child, or embarrass him or her, who would give a child something that would harm him or damage his health.  But our earthly fathers are sinners, like us, and their fatherhood is only a poor reflection of the fatherhood of God.  They do fail.  Some fathers fail spectacularly, and the children suffer badly as a result.  Our heavenly father is not like that.  He will always do what is best for us, even if we can’t understand it at the time.  That’s why we we trust him, and that trust is evoked when we address him in prayer as’Our Father.’  Matthew 7:9-11  

These basic attitudes are essential to prayer.  We come to God as little children come to a parent, fully trusting, grateful that we who don’t even deserve to have such a father have been brought into his family when we don’t deserve such adoption, and knowing that our heavenly Father knows us, loved us and will do what is right for us.

The Catechist has a second question about this first petition.  He asks, 

Q121 Why is there added, in heaven?  A. These words teach us not to think of God’s heavenly majesty in an earthly manner, and to expect from his almighty power all things we need for body and soul. 

Now this second question has a very profound reply indeed.  

  • We are not to think of God’s majesty in earthly terms.  We are taught in God’s word that we are made in God’s image, but sometimes we make the mistake of turning that on its head, and trying to make God in our image.  We want a god who’s just like me.  But the eternal God does not fit into my/our image. God the Father is a spirit, not a mortal human.  Read John 4:24   When we pray we say ‘Our Father in heaven’ to make sure that we do not think of God in human terms.  God is different from me and you.  Read  Jeremiah 23:23-24   Acts 17:24-25 God,  
  • We are respect God’s pronouns! In this society, in the 21st Century, it is a serious societal error to ‘misgender’ someone.  Strangely though, the liberals who insist on respecting people’s stated pronouns never want to respect God’s stated pronouns.  God is a spirit, but he has revealed himself to us as a father, as a King, as a Husband…. When he sent us the Saviour, he sent us a MAN, Jesus.  God commands his people to address him as ‘Our Father’ – never as ‘Our Mother God,’ like some liberals do.  God’s perfect self-disclosure is as a MAN, a Father.
  • We can fully depend on God. Because God is our Heavenly Father, and much more majestic than us, more powerful than us, we know pray knowing that he is able to to provide for everything we need, all our bodily and spiritual needs.  No verse sums this up better than Romans 8:31-32 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

So, when we pray, Jesus teaches us to say, “Our Father, who art in heaven…”

© BobMcEvoy January 2021

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