In the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells that crowd of Gentiles and Jews how to pray and how not to pray.
He says that we won’t be heard for our many impressive words, and our Father already knows what we need before we ask him.
So, why ask him?
Well, maybe He knows what we want, but we don’t know… until we ask.
I used to always know what my children wanted, but I still just loved to hear them speak.
The Jews had an abundance of beautiful prayers and were very disciplined about praying.
But Jesus tells them that it’s not about impressive words, an abundance of words, or magic words—words spoken to gain “rewards.”
Magic is about finding ways to manipulate deities into performing your will.
Faith is about surrendering your will to the Deity, that you might perform his will—his Good Free Will.
To take the name of the Lord in vain is to try to manipulate Love for your own unloving and vain purposes—God is Love, and he revealed his name to Moses: “YHWH.”
Occult practitioners have tried to use that name to cast spells and enchantments.
For fear of taking it in vain, many Jews stopped taking it at all… and now we’re not even certain how it’s pronounced: Yahweh, Yehovah, Jehovah, or something else.
In Leviticus 24, a man uses it to curse another man and is sentenced to death by stoning.
It’s no wonder that the Jews were afraid to pronounce the name of the One who would manifest on the Ark of the Covenant, behind the curtain in the Holy of Holies.
But wouldn’t we all like access to a word or name so powerful that it would grant immediate access, make a way where there is no way, and strike terror into our enemies?
His followers ask him how to pray.
Jesus tells us how not to pray, and then, how to pray:
“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…etc., etc.”
It’s rather funny because it’s so simple.
It’s shocking because of the holy name and who it is that is told to say it.
So, what is the holy name?
Maybe it’s “Yahweh,” but maybe it’s something else.
Imagine getting in a fight with a stranger on a dark street corner, when suddenly a policeman arrives, draws his gun, looks at you, and then your enemy.
What’s the worst possible thing that your enemy could say to the policeman at that point?
How about: “Dad?”
There’s just something about that name.
I recently watched an old home movie. In the movie, everywhere I went, I could hear a little voice behind me saying just one word. When I heard the word, it was like a hand reached into my chest and began squeezing my heart. The word was “Daddy?… Daddy, um… Daddy.”
It was my son, Coleman. He didn’t know what he wanted… except “Daddy.”
He would use the word like sonar. It was how he found his way.
He’s married now and living in another state. When I see him, he’ll say, “Hey, Dad.”
And that same hand will reach into my chest and begin to squeeze, because Coleman has the power to “hallow my name.”
You don’t have that power; but every one of my children has the power to hallow my name because I gave them that name to say and to hallow.
I would speak it into them in the hope that it would return to me.
I would hold them in my arms for hours saying, “Say ‘Da-da.’ Say ‘Daddy’; say ‘Dada.’”
They’d say it, I’d claim it, and we’d start talking and are still talking—and none of them had to take a class or watch a video series on “Talking to Dad.”
Talking to me is not a second language for them; talking to me is their native tongue, and it all began with “Say ‘Daddy.’” Jesus says, “When you pray, say: ‘Our Dad.’”
Matthew writes in Greek, but Jesus spoke Aramaic, and for a variety of reasons, we think he would’ve said, “Pray: ‘Our Abba.’”
“Abba” means “Daddy” or “Dad.”
It was absolutely scandalous that Jesus would refer to Yahweh as his own Abba.
It still is absolutely scandalous that he would tell a group of unbaptized Gentiles and Jews, “Pray, ‘Our Abba.’”
Some like to say that God is not the Father of all, even though Scripture calls him “God and Father of all.”
They point out that Jesus is “The only begotten,” but fail to notice that Jesus commands us to be “begotten from above,” which means he must be begotten in us.
“Because we are sons,” writes Paul, “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying: ‘Abba! Father!’”
They point out that some are “of their father, the devil,” but fail to notice that the devil is not the father of people; he is “the father of lies” about people—false people.
Who is it that Jesus doesn’t “know” on that day?
He doesn’t know your ego—your false self—that is the lie you have created yourself.
But he suffered, died, and delivered up his Spirit that you would say: “Abba… our Abba.”
The name “Jesus” means: “Yahweh, help!”
We can only pray “Abba” by the power of Jesus.
And Jesus commands you to pray it.
Would Jesus, the Truth, command you to lie to God, about God?
If he tells you to call Yahweh, “Abba,” then you are a child of God.
And if he tells you to say, “Our Abba,” that changes absolutely everything and the way you are to treat absolutely everyone, for we all have the same Abba.
All of Christian ethics can be summed up in these three words: “Pray ‘Our Abba.’”
But you can’t pray “Our Abba, our Dad,” until you pray, “My Dad.”
Many of you have had some pretty bad dads, but Jesus came, suffered, and died to tell you “My Daddy is your Daddy; we have the same Daddy. He is Good, and I am his Word—the Word of Life, from the bosom of the Father.”
You have the power to hallow the name.
You have the power to reach into the bosom of the Father and squeeze his heart.
You have the power to nail it to a tree in a garden—body broken and blood shed.
Know why? Because God is your Dad. Say “Abba.”