Q. Why the words “in heaven”?
A. These words teach us not to think of God’s heavenly majesty as something earthly (1), and to expect everything needed for body and soul from God’s almighty power (2).
Read: (1) Jer. 23:23-24; Acts 17:24-25; (2) Matt. 6:25-34; Rom. 8:31-32
I don’t know if you have ever played word association where one person says a word and you give back a couple of words that you associate with that word. When you let your guard down or when you play this game in your heart, you can see the pains, the feelings, the ideas that you have that many times you’re not even aware of. But when we say “in heaven”, you may have hazy ideas, not fully formed. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus is challenging us with the otherness, the radical nature of God to fill us with awe, wonder and peace as we approach our Father in Heaven. Let’s see what Jesus means by “in Heaven” as we study question 120 of The Heidelberg Catechism.
One of the best resources I’ve ever read on Heaven is “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn. With extraordinary systematization, Alcorn gives us a great picture of Heaven according to The Bible. Heaven is a place where the presence of God dwells. Everything there possesses the glory of God, His splendor, His majesty (Rev. 21:11). Heaven is also a place where everything is restored and where the tree of life is (Rev. 22:1-2). Heaven is a place of no more tears or pain or sorrow (Rev. 21:4). Heaven is where the Almighty, the Creator, He who is in charge dwells.
But Who exactly is God? God exists. He is. Self evident, self existing, self sufficient. He exists beyond His creation (Psalm 97:9) but all His creation testifies about Him. God is also sovereign. He is in control, has the authority and makes everything happens (Is. 44:24). He is the Strong One, the Master, the One Who sees, the Great I Am. He is eternal and unchanging, reliable and trustworthy. Perfect. Just. Omnipotent. He is holy, righteous, gracious and kind. Abounding in mercy and love. Unsearchable. Glorious. Caring. Good. He is so much bigger and greater than ourselves that our limited mind and experience cannot fully understand Him. And yet, through The Bible we do get a glimpse of His Majesty in such a way that we can never box him in or completely get Him so that as we pray our Father in Heaven, our imagination and comprehension is stretched into trust.
I don’t know the words you associate with Father or Heaven but here, dear sister, Christ is challenging you to understand that God, Your Heavenly Father is not of this world. He is so different and so so good, that the reality of a bad earthy father shouldn’t inform your perception of Him; and the reality of a great earthly father should be but a shadow of who He is. So as you pray and think about your Father in Heaven, Jesus roots you in the fact of God’s Majestic power and love so that as you approach His throne of grace you may do so in confidence of who you are praying to.
As we finish our teaching today, I want to ask you to go through your Bible and start a list of God’s attributes…His Characteristics…His character so that whenever you feel your preconceptions of “father” and “heaven” overwhelm you, you may read the realities that Jesus is pointing you in the Lord’s Prayer. May this list grow your knowledge and confidence in the One Who gave it all.