“Our Father who is in heaven[i]….” Matt. 6:9) This is the second in a series of blog posts on the Lord’s Prayer. You can read the first post about the simple, but profound, recognition that God is Our Father.
Jesus continued with the recognition who God is by stating that the Father is in “heaven“. We might be tempted to picture God in the clouds, but the popular idea of God in the clouds is not at all accurate. God the Father is outside of time and space. Time, space and matter that makes up the Universe in which we live were created and are contained and sustained by God. They emanated from God; but they do not contain God.
Rationalists and materialists do not believe in God because they cannot see God or measure God. But God is in heaven (literally, “the heavens”).
No measurement of time, space or the Universe or any component thereof can capture the essence of God, because God is in the heavens; He exists outside of time and space. God cannot be measured because our knowledge is limited to the creation that can be measured.
We use words that convey meanings of time and space when we talk of God because that is what we know. God does relate to us in ways that we can know. God broke into time and space and human history in the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. When John the Baptist baptized Jesus, the heavens (plural) opened up; and the Spirit of God “descended” upon Jesus, God in the flesh, who emptied Himself and entered into the world. (Matt. 3:16)
We speak of God “descending” in the birth of Jesus and “ascending” in the resurrection of Jesus, but those are just figures of speech. God is above and below (Deut. 4:39), and beyond (Eph. 3:20), and before (Col. 1:17), and through all (Phil. 4:13) and in all (Eph. 4:6).
God is present in time, but God is also “present” outside of time. God is present in space, but He exists outside and beyond space. God is present in the Universe and outside and beyond the Universe.
Because God is not contained by time, God is ever present, (Ps. 46:1); and because God is not contained in space, He is ever near us. (Jer. 23:23) We cannot even escape Him. (Ps. 139:7-12)
And, this is the incredible thing! An ever present God who is everywhere is a God who can have an individual relationship with every person! That means your Father who is in heaven is present and near you as you pray, and He is just as present and near me when I pray.
God the Father is limitless; God is everywhere; ever present; and knows everything. God knows our thoughts, and He knows our words even before they are formed in our mouths. (Ps. 139:1-4) God numbers the hairs on our heads. (Matt. 10:30). A God who knows our thoughts and our words before they form on our tongues certainly hears our prayers.
God the Father, who inhabits and is present in the heavens, in every layer and fold and dimension of all that is – all of which exists through God – has prepared a “place” for each one us. (John 14:2-3) When we pray to God our Father who is in the heavens, we are praying to the keeper of our souls who has prepared “room” for us where He is; and is with us where we are.
Though we think in terms of time and space (a place, a room, the sky), God is not so limited. Though we are limited in our knowledge of God the Father to whom we pray, when we pray to such a limitless God, we can have the utmost confidence that He hears us; He is near us; He is with us; and He intimately knows us.
Oh God! How wonderful You are that you know my every word, my every thought, my coming and my going. How great You are! Thank you for preparing room for us when we often have little room for You. Please forgive us for such shortsighted thinking. Please work in us to be ever aware of You and ever drawn to You that we know You as You are, that we may worship You in spirit and in truth
After acknowledging God, and who is in relation to us and the universe in which we live, Jesus prayer, “Your Kingdom Come“, which is the next blog post.
[i] Ouranos – meaning heavens (plural). Typically, it is important to distinguish the meanings to the singular (heaven) and the plural (heavens), though most versions of the Bible translate them both as singular (heaven). The plural (heavens) suggests the infinite tiers (levels) of spiritual reality God offers to those who diligently seek Him. The singular means collectively all of the various aspects of God’s divine manifestation into one, over-arching reality. The singular is also used to reference the sky. The singular is more normal Greek usage. The plural (heavens) implies the infinite dimensions in which God dwells and reveals Himself to seeking believers. The plural (heavens) shows God in His infinity offering His limitless opportunities.
If you want ready understanding of the original Greek, the original word emphasis and Greek tenses that do not exist in English to make your reading of the New Testament deeper and richer, check out the The Discovery Bible. The Discovery Bible opens up knowledge of the original New Testament text in Greek to you in your everyday Bible reading. It shows the words emphasized in the Greek text, the tenses and the meanings that do not always translate well into English or English sentence structure.