Jesus began the “Lord’s Prayer” with the words, “Our father in heaven.” The word for Father here that Jesus uses is the word Abba. Abba! Not the Swedish dance group from the seventies. Abba is a word that actually means “daddy.” It?s an intimate, personal word. Abba-Daddy.
You need to understand how absolutely shocking it is that Jesus would use this word here to refer to God. He addresses God basically as “daddy.” Not, “Oh most gracious and holy sovereign Lord” or something like that. He goes with abba, daddy. In all of literature you will not find this type of familiar language for God. Jesus alone uses it. And what is he teaching us here? Follow closely because this is key. Jesus is teaching us that our prayers are more like a relationship with a father, than a speech given to a deity. Jesus is taking God, whom we place outside of the circle of our relationships, in the abstract, religious, “spiritual” realm, and he is moving Him right into the center of your circle.
When we pray we are having a conversation with the one who knows us better than anyone. We are having a dialogue, a talk with our creator, with the one is in the center of the circle of trust. We are not making a well prepared speech for an audience. You don?t do that in any relationship that is intimate, do you? At the end of my day, I don?t talk to my wife in bed and say “Sharon, who art in my bed, thou art wonderful and special to me.” No, I don?t do that. And Jesus is saying, “Look, you have a relationship here with God, a personal one, and so when you pray, treat it as such.”
Tragically in the church over the centuries we have taken what was supposed to be a relationship with God and made it into a religion about God. I meet people who say that they don?t like, or that they distrust organized religion. And I get that. I?m there too. Organized religion just takes God out of relationship and puts him into that separate world of the spiritual. Organized religion just gives you the formula. Just pray this prayer and God will do what you want. Just rub the lamp and the genie will come out and dance for you.
What Jesus calls us to is not a religion. Do you see that? He calls us into a relationship to the Father through Him. And what has happened over the centuries, is that people come wanting to know God and we give them a religion not a relationship. We say, “Pray this prayer this way, jump through these hoops and then you will know God.” That makes sense if you are just out to sign people up for the Christian religion. But we aren?t here to do that. From the very beginning of launching this church we were not out to get people to sign up for the Christian religion. That isn?t our purpose. We are trying to get people to know Jesus, that?s it, get in a relationship with Him. That means if you are Muslim, or some secular atheist, or whatever beliefs you hold, we’re not trying to recruit you to some religion. We’re trying to get you to follow Jesus. And let me tell you, there are plenty of Christians out there as well that need to meet Jesus in a big way.