The Lord’s Prayer is a fascinating, deeply complex, and surprisingly simple prayer. This new series of articles pairs a stained glass window from a small church with each petition of the Lord’s Prayer. In each post, we will see how the symbols in the window help us to understand what Jesus says to us when he commands us to pray this chief prayer.
The Lord’s prayer is the best-known prayer in the Christian church, and we pray it in all occasions: in worship, when we’re sick, when we celebrate, and more. Not only is it the one prayer that Jesus, himself, told us all to pray, it also easily summarizes everything we might ask of God. A short prayer, and easily memorized, it contains deep meaning, despite how simple it seems. Christians, throughout the last two millennia, have studied each line of the Lord’s Prayer to see what God promises by teaching us to ask for these things.
The Lord’s Prayer begins with a simple address to God, “Our Father, who art in heaven.” When Jesus teaches us to address God this way, he reminds us that God is our Father. The apostle Paul writes in Romans, chapter 8, “you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” This is one of the great gifts of the gospel of Jesus Christ: God treats us as dear children who can approach their dear Father without fear. Even better, we have the sure promise that our dear Father listens to our prayer.
The image above is a classic Christian symbol that represents God, the Father. The sun and clouds remind us of His place in heaven. In Isaiah 66, God says, “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.” Our Father is the king of all creation who sits on his throne in heaven. He rules over everything from there.
The hand is God’s right hand reaching down from heaven. Over and over, the Bible describes God’s power and his saving acts as his right hand. Psalm 89:13, “You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand, high your right hand.” When Moses stands with Israel on the far side of the Red Sea, watching the waters crash over Pharaoh’s army, he sings a song called, The Song of the Sea . Exodus 15:6, “Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power, your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.” God’s right hand saves his chosen people, Psalm 20:6, “Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand.”
God’s right hand can be raised in judgment. When Israel sinned and abandoned the covenant that God made with them, he used his mighty power to judge them. When God sent the armies of Babylon to destroy the city of Jerusalem, the author of Lamentations wrote this in Lamentations 2:4, “He has bent his bow like an enemy, with his right hand set like a foe; and he has killed all who were delightful in our eyes in the tent of the daughter of Zion; he has poured out his fury like fire.”
God’s right hand is the power that he uses to defeat his enemies and save his people. The best place we see God’s glorious power is when he defeated death through Jesus. God’s right hand and his mighty power caused the Word to become flesh, and it sent Jesus to the cross. His right hand and his mighty power raised Jesus from the dead and caused him to ascended into heaven where he sits at God’s right hand. God’s power is most perfectly known in how Jesus saves us. It’s because he saves us that we know we can turn to the Father in heaven for his protection and his love.
This introduction to the Lord’s prayer teaches us that God’s right hand is not raised in judgment against us. Instead, his right hand is the loving hand of a Father who gently invites us to approach him in prayer.
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God bless you.
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