Annotations to the Heidelberg Catechism - Lord's Day 46
Lord's Day 46
Why has Christ commanded us
to address God as Our Father?
To awaken in us
at the very beginning of our prayer
that childlike reverence and trust
which should be basic to our prayer:
God has become our Father
and will much less deny us
what we ask of Him in faith
than our fathers would
refuse us earthly things.
Why is there added,
Who art in heaven?
These words teach us
not to think of God's heavenly majesty
in an earthly manner,
and to expect from His almighty power
all things we need
for body and soul.
Q. & A. 120 – 121 To Thee I Lift Up My Eyes, O Thou Who Art Enthroned in the Heavens!
- Christ teaches us, by means of the address, “Our Father, who art in heaven,” to speak to God in our prayers. Ps. 25:1 says: "To thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul."
Praying is not daydreaming, a reverie, being lost in yourself, but speaking to the Lord. That is why we must begin our prayer with an address. We do not always have to use the words with which Christ prompts us. We may also address the Lord in other ways. But in doing so, we must use sober and simple language, which is what Christ teaches us in this address.
- The address is so important because thereby we express the relationship between the addressee and ourselves. Christ teaches us in the address of the perfect prayer to approach God with “childlike reverence and trust.” Thus, we must (that is childlike reverence) approach God not with servile fear, but with childlike, loving and respectful awe, and with childlike trust. This “reverence” and “trust” are strengthened by the added words, “who art in heaven.” Thereby the Lord forbids us “to think of God's heavenly majesty in an earthly manner.” Our intimate relationship may not degenerate into a pedestrian familiarity. This happens readily if our prayers become routine and habitual! Also in our trust and our expectation we may not think of God in an earthly or petty manner. Our need will never exceed the power of the Helper!
- This childlike reverence and trust together “should be basic to our prayer.” They are not the basis upon which our prayer is heard. It lies solely in God's grace and Christ's sacrifice. But they are basic to our prayer. Prayer is impossible without reverence and trust.
- When we call upon “our Father,” by Christ's command, we plead the work of the Saviour. God became our Father through him. There is an old question whether every person may call upon God as “Father.” Must we not be quite sure before we do this and, therefore, before we place a childlike trust in God, that we are believers? But God allows us to call upon him as our Father in his covenant. We do not do that because we are so sure of ourselves, but because we do not doubt the Lord's promises and because we are certain that he is the Father!
- The Lord teaches us to pray, “Our Father,” for we approach him as members of the church. Hence, in our prayer, we may not act as if we are alone, but we must pray for each other.
- What is praying? May we address the Lord only as “our Father”? What must we be conscious of in our address?
- What do we express in the address? How must we approach God? What is childlike reverence? What is childlike trust?
- What is the basis upon which our prayer is answered? What is basic to our prayer?
- Upon whose work do we plead when we call upon the Father? May all persons call upon God as Father? How do we get the confidence to do so?
- Why did Christ teach us say “Our Father”?