We begin a new series called “Teach us to pray” where we will look at each phrase in the Lord’s prayer over 8 weeks.

Prayer is vital for Christian life. It is key to know God, to know yourself and to changing yourself. Like air is to physical living, prayer is to Christian living. If prayer is so vital, then why do we struggle to pray? Notice how when we sit down to pray, we get easily distracted. We are confused about what to pray and how to begin. We are afraid of the silence. We are ashamed of our inability to have a vibrant prayer life. We feel like a hypocrite coming to God only when we need something. We feel condemned because of our sin and carry hurts and disappointments from unanswered prayers.

We do struggle in so many ways. The disciples struggled too and thats the reason they asked Jesus to teach them to pray. God invites us to come to him the same way and say, Lord teach us to pray.

The Lord’s prayer is not meant for meaningless and mindless repetition. Jesus warns against this in Matthew 6.

Matthew 6:5 And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others.     
6:7 and when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.

The Lord’s prayer is a summary of the entire gospel doctrine in scripture. Jesus wants us to bring our understanding of who God is from scripture when we approach him in prayer.

We begin with the first phrase “Our Father in heaven”. When we don’t understand what it means to come to God as our heavenly Father, then we don’t approach him the right way in prayer, we wont enjoy prayer or even know why to pray and what to pray. This understanding of God as our Father forms the basis of our prayer.

We will look at 3 truths about the doctrine of adoption.

A. The miracle of adoption

Gal 4:4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 

Calling God as Father is a miracle. It is a gift received by faith, not earned or something we deserve.

Have you thought about this? What right do you have to call God as Father? No religion calls God as father. Even the Jews in the OT don’t pray to God as father even though they know that God is the Father of Israel. We see this only in the New Testament and specifically taught by Jesus.

The truth is that, not all people are children of God and God is not the Father of all people. This might sound shocking but true. Jesus went thru suffering, pain and death so that you can become children of God. This is not natural or automatic because we are born in this world.

Romans 5:10 says we are enemies of God. Ephesians 2:3 says by nature we were children of wrath. This is who we are by nature.

God is the creator all. And all people are created in his image. God is the Father of all creation and acts Fatherly toward all creation. He provides, cares, loves and is fatherly in his attitude toward all people. But relationally and spiritually he becomes their Father through Christ when he adopts them as his own.

Fatherhood of God is not a language of creation but a language of redemption and adoption. This is a miracle.

You can call someone Father only by two ways, either birth or adoption. Only Jesus has the right to call God as Father. He is eternal and perfect Son of God. Though God the Father and God the Son are equal in being, essence and divinity, yet they are relationally Father & Son as revealed in scripture. Only Jesus has the right, access, authority, freedom, acceptance, inheritance because God is his Father.

The greatest miracle is that Jesus gives us the right to call God Father. What audacity! What scandal What right do we have? What did we do to deserve this privilege? Who do we think we are? Are we more special than others? How dare we think we have the same right as Jesus? This is explained in Galatians 4.

Gal 4:4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 

Jesus through his life, death and resurrection, by being our substitute on the cross, paid for our sin and purchased our forgiveness. It is by faith in what Christ has done, being baptised into Christ, God adopts you as his own children. This is truly a miracle.

The Bible does not say he is like your father. It is not a metaphor. But he is your heavenly father. Adoption is a gift of grace received by faith.

When you address God as father, do you sense this miracle? Does this move your heart? When you utter the words Our Father, does your heart bow in humble gratitude, leap with inexplicable joy, comforted by his unending love, be in silent awe and wonder that he would adopt you as his own and that you get to call God Father?

Knowing this truth, deeply understanding and meditating on this truth and living it out in everyday life will change your life, especially your prayer life. You are no longer a slave but a son and daughter. You are no longer an enemy or stranger but his family.

B. Significance of adoption

Gal 3:26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.
4:6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

When God adopts you as his own son and daughter because of what Jesus did, what significance does this have? Let’s imagine Ambani adopts you as his legal heir. Everything he has legally becomes yours. You didn’t earn it but it’s all yours. You get his name, his inheritance, his status, his power, his position. We can imagine what that would mean.

But can you imagine what it means if God, who is the creator of all things, ruler of everything, the eternal one, adopts you as his child? What does this mean? What is this worth?

The passage says we become heirs and we are no longer slaves. We inherit glory. We have new access, freedom, worth, identity, acceptance and approval. We are welcomed into his kingdom with open arms, he is a loving Father who watches over us, never abandons us, leaves or forsakes us, unconditionally loves and eternally committed to us. What more do we need?

The question is, do you get your significance, worth and acceptance from this identity as a child of God? If we get our significance from anything else, like money, success, people’s approval, status etc, then we will be working and working as a slave. But if we know God as our Father and live out of this identity as his son and daughter, that we are loved and accepted, then we will experience true freedom. We are no longer a slave to work, money, success or people. We are free.

Here’s a quote by J.I. Packer,
"If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how he much he makes of the thought of being God's child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. [Adoption] is the highest privilege the gospel offers.”

Do you grasp the significance of being the child of God? Adoption is the greatest and highest privilege for us who are in Christ.

C. The Cost of adoption

Being adopted as children of God is a gracious and free gift we receive by faith in Christ. But this gift is not cheap. It is costly. Do you realise every time Jesus prayed or addressed God, he addressed him as Father? Except once. It was on the cross when Jesus cries out, my God, my God why have you forsake me?

The moment when the sins of humanity fell upon Jesus, the horror of God’s wrath upon sin is about to fall on him, when he is going to be abandoned by the one to whom he was related eternally as the Son, when he is going to be separated from his Father, deserted, abandoned and left all alone to die a shameful death, the moment when the Father was looking away, it was at this moment the Father and Son relationship was broken. Jesus went through this pain, torment and anguish of eternal proportion for you and for me, so that you can be adopted as son and as daughter. So that we can call God as Father.

It cost Jesus his life and all that he had so you could enjoy what he enjoys, so you can have the same rights he has before God, the same access he has, the same privileges he has and have the same inheritance he has. And one day we can receive the same pronouncement he received, this is my son in whom I am well pleased!

The gospel should humble you, but also give you tremendous confidence.

Next time when you pray, will you pause and reflect on what this phrase “Our Father in heaven” means to you. Whatever you have in mind to ask, whatever struggle you face, whatever life situation you are in, will you pause and reflect on this greatest miracle as you say Our Father in heaven.

Ranjit David

Ranjit has been in Pastoral Ministry for the last 10 years in various settings. Coming from an Engineering background, he is passionate about working with young professionals in Delhi, using their gifts, teaching from God’s word, and having an open home. His training from Dallas Theological Seminary and Redeemer City to City has equipped him to serve strategically in an urban context.

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