Which art in heaven

Fourth in The Lord's Prayer Series, "The best prayer to pray in times of stress"

The contemporary versions of the Bible do not include the words, "which art" or "who is" in the first line of The Lord's Prayer, in either Matthew or Luke. They simply say, "Our Father in heaven." Shortening the phrase makes it more elegant from a modern literary standpoint, but perhaps the ancient phrase that prefaces "in heaven" by "which art" is helpful in directing our gaze.

God is in heaven, that place of perfect rest and harmony.

When the U.S. put a man on the moon, some were offended that the heavens had been pierced and troubled by scientific exploits. Today, clouds are seeded by technologists to achieve various goals. Such news may make us feel that heaven has become mundane.

Has God been displaced? Is heaven above or within? Christ taught that it is both. In fact, to arrive there after we die, we must enter it while we are alive. We find peace by acknowledging that Jesus opened heaven for us by his death on the cross, taking our sins on himself. That is how we enter God's kingdom.

Heaven cannot be seen by our eyes, but has been seen in visions and dreams. Moreover, there are heavens above heavens, and we learn from the Lord’s Prayer that God’s base of operations is there.

When we pray, we should look to the One who is above all, who is in control and has the power to do all things.

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, But to Your name give glory
Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth. Why should the nations say, "Where, now, is their God?"
But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.(Ps 115:1-3)

Envisioning the heavens, all anxiety slips away.

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3)

Our Father

Third in The Lord's Prayer Series, "The best prayer to pray in times of stress"

Father. The word may comfort or it may offend. If a person had none, then relating to God as one is hard, and yet very special since he is the only Father they will ever know.

God states he is the Father of the fatherless. (Ps 68:5) He who made the heart understands its deep need of a father, and promises to be our Father: When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up. (Ps 27:10)

For those who call him Father, he will not tolerate greater loyalty to another: "For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes [shall be] they of his own household." (Mat 10:35-36)

Nonetheless, he commands respect for the father: Honor your father and your mother; Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. (Eph 6:1)

But how can a son respect an alcoholic father? How can a daughter honor a mother who deserted her? God understands. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. (Isa 49:15)

Parents disappoint but God, never. We can ask Him how to honor our parents; He will provide answers to deep mysteries that set us in a maze of doubts, and shepherd us to the end.

A more difficult challenge: "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me." (Mat 10:37-38) We must have much, much greater love, respect, adoration and obedience for our heavenly Father than for any earthly one. If we know Christ, it wil not be hard.

Christ said to Thomas: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him" — Philip then said to him, "Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us." Jesus replied, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou [then], Shew us the Father? Believe me that I [am] in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake." (John 14:6-10)

The disciples had times of great stress, and stress causes us to forget what we know to be true. We lose our bearings. North? Where is it? East? Which way? Christ? Where is he? Who is he? Know this: Christ was and is "the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." (Isa 9:6b)

Consider the "Our"

Second in The Lord's Prayer Series, "The best prayer for times of stress"

Stopping to think: it was the only begotten son — the only divine child of the Father, who invited the ones he came to save to pray with him, "Our Father."

Only Jesus Christ was with God in the beginning (John 1:1), the one who made all things (John 1:3); who was the true Light of men (John 1:9); who gave men power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name (John 1:12). Those of us who have received him are now born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:13). And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. (John 1:16)

Reflecting further about this marvelous grace, John said,Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God(I John 3:1a)

If you are tempted to feel you are alone, stop and consider: Jesus is your older brother. That is enough to calm any anxiety in your heart. A good older brother is a great comfort. Yes, Jesus loves you.

We should never see ourselves as unconnected, without a family, or without a purpose. You have a sister in North Korea who is starving in a prison camp; a brother in Egypt under a threat of death because he will not renounce his faith; a mother in Sweden who wants to take care of her family without government intervention; a brother in Mexico who will die today for his stand against gangs. Let us pray for our family!

The first word of the Lord's prayer reminds us we are not alone, and we can be sure that as we pray, we are heard on behalf of our family members, near and far. They are remembering us, too.

Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. (Mat 12:48b-50)

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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