“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."
~ John 14:1-3
The Lord’s Prayer starts out with two important points of focus for prayer. God our Father and heaven. Prayer isn’t about us and it should help us remember and focus on a picture bigger than anything we could ever imagine. This week we are looking a bit deeper into why God and heaven are important things to fix our eyes upon when we pray.
First, God our Father. Each of those three words are heavy laden with meaning just by themselves. God is the God of the universe. God of gods. King of kings. Creator of all things. The One who knows all things, past, present, and future. The One who knows us so intimately He could tell us how many hairs are on our head and yet who is so big he holds all of creation (not just the earth but the universe and galaxies as well) in the palm of his hands. That is who we are praying to when we pray.
And while God is very personal, and knows each of us better than we know ourselves, He isn’t just for one person. He is for everyone. He is OUR’s. Think of the work it takes to know just one person really, really well. Perhaps it is your spouse. Maybe it’s a parent, sibling, or child. It could be a longtime friend. I’m always struck by those who have known someone for decades and still find themselves learning about the person they love. I’ve known my parents my entire life and I still hear stories about them which surprise me. My parents have known me my entire life and I still feel like there are days when they don’t know me at all. And yet, God doesn’t just know every part of me, he also knows every part of every person on this earth. Jesus could have prayed MY father in heaven, but he prayed OUR father.
Finally, a Father’s commitment, by design, is one that never ends. They are there for their child for the rest of their lives. Once a person is part of bringing a child into the world, they are forever tied to that child in some way. Biology will never let them fully deny the connection. Similarly, God is forever and always tied to us through his love of each of us.
And while God is omnipresent, meaning he is everywhere at the same time, and so is present with us in some way here on earth, heaven is his home, his dwelling place. I think one of the biggest questions we have no answer for is where exactly is heaven? Often images of heaven are some version of a castle with gates in the clouds. We generally point to the sky and say “up there somewhere.” And those are understandable when you read passages such as Acts 1 where Jesus is taken up into heaven and hidden by a cloud.
For me, one of the important things to remind myself of is that heaven is ultimately beyond our human language to fully describe. Just like God is beyond our human understanding and language. Maybe, just maybe, if I could speak all the languages ever spoken on earth, I could find the right words to begin putting together an accurate description. However, I’m horrible when it comes to learning new languages so I left with the limits of modern American English to describe the mysteries of God and heaven.
Despite that reality, there are a few things which we can know about heaven.
We know that in heaven all things are new. We know that there are no tears or pain or effects of sin. We know there will be perfect peace, both within ourselves and among all of creation. We know that there is solid real estate to heaven. It isn’t just clouds of mist and fog which come and go with the weather. And we know that we will have a physical body of some sort which will resemble in some way our earthly bodies. We won’t just be shimmery spirits or ghosts floating around.
Ultimately, heaven means being always being fully in God’s presence. To always know and feel his love. To always be free from the effects of sin. To always be in a place which has been prepared for me for all of eternity.
So as we begin this prayer which Jesus taught so long ago, take a moment to really fix your gaze on God OUR Father in heaven.
How big is God in your estimation? Do you let him be big enough to actually hold all of creation in his hands?
How personal is God to you? Do you believe He knows you better than you know yourself? Is that a comforting thought or a scary thought? Why?
How does your relationship with your earthly father influence your view of and your relationship with your heavenly father?
There are a lot of questions we have about what heaven is like. Christianity Today published a great article which attempts to answer 35 frequently asked questions about heaven. You can read it by clicking HERE.