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Matthew 6:9

(9) After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. King James Version Change your email Bible version

Prayer is a form of communication from subject to Sovereign, suggesting the former requesting aid from the latter, just as in ancient times supplicants would approach the king's throne for a boon. The English word pray—“to entreat, implore, plead, or request”—finds its source through French in the Latin word prex, which means “a request, supplication, petition, or prayer.” It is very much in line with Paul's exhortation in Philippians 4:6, “. . . let your requests be made known to God.”

Opening His instruction to His disciples on how to pray, Jesus highlights the august Recipient of our requests, God the Father, who resides in heaven. Listed first, as the salutation of the prayer, this instruction may be the most important for multiple reasons. Not only does it identify the Father as the Receiver of our petitions, but it also addresses Him in a reverential manner, stipulating the nature of the conversation: of a humble beseecher, hat in hand, asking for help from the Most High God.

In Scripture, each word is critical (see Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4). The model prayer begins with the possessive pronoun “our,” which provides a small detail that a praying person should heed. “Our” presupposes that others can claim the Father as the great God. Jesus, the Son of God, frequently calls Him “My Father” (see Matthew 20:23; Luke 10:22; John 8:38; 20:17; etc.), and in fact, He came to reveal the Father to us (John 1:18). Angels are sometimes called “sons of God” (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Psalm 29:1; 89:6), so they can claim Him as Father too.

In Luke 3:38, the first man, Adam, is described as “the son of God.” By being descended from him, all humanity is likewise children of God through creation. As God Himself says in Jeremiah 32:27, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh.”

A distinctive sub-group of all human sons of God are those, Paul writes, who “are led by the Spirit of God” (Romans 8:14). These elect sons of God are the people who can legitimately call the Sovereign of the universe “our Father in heaven,” because God has specifically chosen them to become His spiritual children and bear His Spirit. By this shared Spirit, effective communication between earth and heaven can occur (see John 16:13-15; Romans 8:15-16; I Corinthians 2:10-16; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 6:18).

In Matthew 6:9, “our” reminds us that converted Christians are a special people to God (I Peter 2:9-10). He has opened the way for us to have a unique, personal relationship with Him, a Father-child relationship whom no others of His angelic or uncalled human children claim: to become His Firstfruits, the Bride of His beloved Son, and heirs of all things (James 1:18; Revelation 19:7-8; Galatians 4:7). He is our Father in an exclusive and wonderful way!


— Richard T. Ritenbaugh

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