“Our Father” – Prayer series II

“In this manner therefore pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name” 
Matthew 6:9 NKJV 

My wife and I took ill on Christmas Eve, and since that date, we have gone through several iterations of the flu and other bugs. Currently, she has pneumonia, and I have bronchitis. Our illnesses have been in spurts. We lay in bed for several days, would get up for a few hours and then back down again. Neither of us have been this ill for so long, and despite our best efforts, we could not maintain any sense of routine. I say we, but superwoman (my wife) would get up, make coffee, and keep the fireplace going while I was man-sick in bed. Praise the Lord; we (including our doctors) believe we are at the end of this mess. 

Before becoming ill, I had been studying the Lord’s Prayer to write a series of articles on the prayer. I was able to submit one article before mushy brain syndrome took over. I tried to continue with devotions and prayers but admittedly struggled during this time. I was both physically and mentally wiped out, but I did not want to ignore God because I knew He was not ignoring me. I tried to listen to sermons, devotionals, audiobooks, and praise songs but quickly lost focus or fell asleep. However, throughout my illness, the phrase “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9 NKJV) kept coming to mind, specifically the words Father and Hallowed

My Father passed when I was in my early teens, so I had no role model, nor was I capable of idolatrously compare God to an earthly father. Using the story of the prodigal son helped me understand the loving, gracious term ABBA. Modern life creates great distances between members of a family. However, this is not the norm in traditional communities in the Middle East. Their mother and father have lived near their children all their lives. In short, the Father is near and usually lives in the same house. In contrast, the Abba of Christian prayer is near yet far away; He is in the heavens. The worshipping community is part of the created world. Abba is the Creator. The faithful are servants, and Abba is the Master. Mortals are born and die, while Abba is the eternal One. Abba’s name is Hallowed, and my thoughts during my illness were, Abba, continue to make Your name hallowed so the world will see You are in control. You are loving, gracious, personal, and close to those who desire You”. 

Abba, the loving Father, is approachable yet dwells in excellent majesty in the heavens in all His glory. Jesus taught His disciples to pray to God, who is near and yet far away. He is “our Father” and, at the same time, is “in the heavens.”