Summary: We greet our children, we greet our spouse, we even greet strangers we meet on the street. How do we greet the Lord in prayer?
I’m sure it comes to no surprise to you that I enjoy reading old letters and books. It’s amazing to see how the style of writing has changed over the years. Even in my lifetime, writing has become a lot less formal. Many of the grammar rules that I grew up learning are not being used anymore because people say they’re too formal. I guess in some ways that’s good. But in some ways we’re losing something. One of the ways it’s most noticeable is in our written communication. I have just recently been introduced to the world of cell phone texting. I am becoming more and more convinced that texting will be the downfall of the English language as we know it. I thought email was bad. Texting is worse. Especially if you get a text from a teenager. Nothing is spelled out. It’s all abbreviated or in some kind of undecipherable code language. Every time the send button is pressed, Noah Webster turns over in his grave. But seriously, it is interesting to compare the way we write things with the way things were written in the past. Some grammar rules have changed. Some word meanings have changed. Some of the way we use punctuation has changed. Everything is a whole lot less structured and formal. And there is no place where that is more noticeable than in the way we begin. In the past, books and letters always began with a very formal greeting. I have some reprints of some books from the 1800s where the greeting goes on for hundreds of words. Here’s an example that most of us are familiar with. Many King James Bibles include the original title page greeting in the front. I don’t know if you’ve ever taken the time to read it, but you might want to sometime. It brings attention to how different the world of the translators was from our own. One of the ways it was different was in their greeting. It starts off, “To the most high and mighty prince James. By the grace of God, King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland. Defender of the Faith, etc.” Now, you compare that to the typical email greeting today. At best, it’ll have your name and a comma. Most of the time there’s nothing there at all. We’ve gotten out of the greeting business. And, unfortunately, many times we carry that over to our prayer life. At best, we might start off, “Lord, comma.” But that’s not how Jesus told us to pray, is it? We started off reading the entire Lord’s Prayer. But tonight we’re going to focus on just the first part in verse 9. Tonight we’re going to focus on the greeting. How do you greet the Lord in prayer? Do you greet Him formally like an 18th century letter? Do you greet Him casually like we greet each other? Or do you completely leave out a greeting to the Lord like we do in emails today? However you have greeted the Lord in prayer in the past, I trust that you will leave here tonight seeing how Jesus taught us to greet the Lord in prayer. Because the way you greet the Lord in prayer will tell you a lot about who He is to you. As a matter of fact, the way you greet the Lord in prayer speaks loudly and clearly of three things. First, it speaks of your relationship.
The way you greet the Lord in prayer speaks of your relationship. Jesus said that when you pray, you are to call on your Father. In our society, Satan attacks the family more than any other institution. More than human government. Even more than the church. Why is that? Because when the family is destroyed, God’s pictures are destroyed. God gives us His Word in written form in the Bible. But the Bible doesn’t come with pictures. That’s because God gave us pictures in the world around us. He tells us all about the relationship between Jesus and His church in the Bible. But He shows us a picture of it in the marriage relationship. In the same way, God tells us all about His relationship with those He’s saved in the Bible. And He gives us a beautiful picture of it in the relationship between a father and his children. Now, tell me how well that picture comes through when a child is beaten or abused by his father. Tell me how well it comes through when a father is worthless or lazy or drunk or unloving. Tell me how well it comes through when a child doesn’t even know who his father is. Satan is working overtime to destroy the pictures that God has given us of His love… the pictures of His intimate relationship with those He’s saved. But whatever picture you have in your mind of your earthly father… if Jesus has saved you, God is your heavenly Father. He is intimately involved in every aspect of your life. He knows you better than you know yourself and will never reject you. He will never abandon you, leave you or forsake you. He will lovingly supply all your needs. And He will chastise you and discipline you when you need it. When Jesus saves you, you are adopted into the family of God. You become heirs and joint heirs with Jesus Christ Himself. Galatians 4:4-7 says, “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” That word “Abba” is an Aramaic word. The New Testament was written in Greek, but Aramaic was what most of the Jews spoke in their everyday conversations. And Abba was what little children would call their fathers. It wasn’t formal like “father”. It was tender and innocent—more like “daddy”. If Jesus was speaking the Lord’s prayer to his disciples, that’s the word He would have used. When Jesus saves you, your relationship with God is such that He wants you to cry out to Him as your daddy. He loves you more than any earthly father ever could. 1 John 3:1 says, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” There is nothing that my children could ever do or say that would cause me to quit loving them. And I’m just a flawed, weak human being. How much more is the Father’s love for His children? How much more faithful is He in hearing your cry? How much more thrilled is He to hear your voice and relish in your love and adoration for Him? How much more willing to give you exceedingly abundantly more than you can ever ask or think? That’s the kind of relationship your greeting in prayer speaks of. It speaks of God as your Father. But not only does the way you greet the Lord in prayer speak of your relationship, it speaks of your reference point.