“This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”
Heaven, the place many believers dream of. We strive against the desires of the flesh and forgo certain benefits that we could enjoy, all in the hope that this place will be our final destination. But what is it about Heaven that should be appealing to Christians? Is it the streets paved with gold? Or is it the anticipation of seeing the place that Jesus told us that he was going away to prepare for us? Jesus, understanding that proximity mattered to God, determined to make proximity his priority. For Jesus, heaven represented the place where God dwells—a place of nearness. When teaching his disciples how to pray, Jesus points first to the importance of intimacy, and then reminds them of the dwelling place of God—Heaven.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). The account in Genesis allows us to understand that before there was an Eden, a separation of the firmaments, or even what we would call day and night, there was heaven. Heaven was created at the beginning, and instantly became the dwelling place of God. As the residing realm for the Creator of all things, heaven is a place of primacy. This is not just the place where God resides, but also the place where he rules and reigns as Sovereign. Heaven is the place where God legislates, adjudicates, and appropriates resources—not unlike many of the government systems in our earth. So when Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, he intentionally ascribes Heaven as the address of all things God.
If we are to translate the first part of Jesus’s prayer, it would unfold like so:
“God, we approach you from a place of intimacy by acknowledging you as our Father. We also acknowledge that you reside in the place of preeminence—Heaven.”
By instructing his disciples to follow after this pattern of prayer, Jesus is causing them to reimagine prayer by intentionally considering: (1) their proximity to God, (2) God’s inseparable relationship with power and, (3) God’s unique and preeminent vantage point from his abode in Heaven.
For the disciples, it was therefore imperative to be willing to yield to the fact that God has the best vantage point. God sees things that we cannot. He knows things that are beyond our scope. Leaders today must make the same determination when we pray. We must acknowledge that God, who is in heaven, sits in the place of preeminence. This template of prayer teaches us how to submit our own viewpoints and ideals and exchange them for God’s superior insight.
To be clear, God is very aware of who he is and where he dwells. He is acutely in tune with all the power that he possesses. Therefore, praying in this manner is less about stroking God’s ego and more about us reminding ourselves that we are at a natural disadvantage, and thus dependent on God’s presence and his superior instructions. The next time you pray, don’t forget that God has the best vantage point.
God, you are our Father. We acknowledge that you reside in the place of power and authority. God, you are power and authority. Today, we acknowledge that you are preeminent, and we invite you to give us insight from this place when we pray. We submit to you in all things. In Jesus’s name, Amen.