As I continue working through Keller's book on prayer, I would like to share his insights from Calvin and Luther on praying what he calls "The Prayer of Prayers," and what we know as The Lord's Prayer. Each day this week I will post on a different phrase from this powerful prayer that Jesus has given to his disciples.
Today, Our Father Who Art in Heaven.
This is called the address, not actually one of the petitions. Calvin explains that to call God "Father" is to pray in Jesus' name. "Who would break forth into such rashness as to claim for himself the honor of a son of God unless we had been adopted as children of grace in Christ?" Luther also believed the address was a call to not plunge right into talking to God but to first recollect our situation and realize our standing in Christ before we proceed into prayer. We are to say to God, "You have taught us to regard you and call upon you as one Father of us all...although...you could rightly and properly be a severe judge over us." Therefore, we should start by asking God to "implant in our hearts a comforting trust in your fatherly love."
Calvin agrees that "by the great sweetness of this name [Father] he frees us from all distrust."
(Tim Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, p. 110)