Relationship with God

One of the things that was radically changed when Jesus came to Earth was a person’s ability to have a relationship with God. Because God had never been physically present with them, it was very difficult for the Israelites to understand his way of doing things. Probably, the most difficult barrier Jesus had to overcome was the preconceived ideas the Jews had about their Messiah and his mission to save the world. Reconciling the differences between God’s intentions and the expectations of his people took a significant amount of Jesus’ time and became one of his primary goals during his three year ministry. As he prepared to return to heaven, Jesus focused on leaving a lasting impression on his disciples and preparing them for the time when they would once again be physically separated from him.

A direct benefit of Jesus being present with them was that his disciples could ask him questions and get his opinion about things that were difficult for them to understand. Although many things were still confusing to them, Jesus’ disciples were given private lessons that could help them decipher God’s will and his plan of salvation for the world. One of the things his disciples noticed was Jesus’ constant communication with his heavenly Father. Because they were aware that Jesus was praying for them and was asking God to do certain things that he couldn’t do himself, the disciples understood that prayer was a vital part of having a personal relationship with God. They also knew the time was coming when they would have to carry on without Jesus, so one of his disciples asked him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1).

And he said unto them, “When ye pray, say, Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so  in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” (Luke 11:2-4)

A key aspect of this prayer was the way Jesus instructed his disciples to address God. When Jesus referred to God as “Our Father,” he was in a sense making his disciples equal with him because they were all on the same level from a relationship standpoint, God’s children. The three things Jesus instructed his disciples to ask for: daily bread, forgiveness of sins, and deliverance from temptation; showed them that their relationship with God was meant to be a way for them to benefit from his divine resources and sovereign control over the universe.

After sharing his template for prayer, Jesus told his disciples that they could depend on God and shouldn’t hesitate to ask him for the things they needed. Jesus explained that God is more reliable than a neighbor that has extra resources and told them, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened: (Luke 11:9-10). The progressive verbs Jesus used; ask, seek, and knock, probably had to do with the enhanced quality of a relationship with God over time. You could say there was a certain amount of boldness that could be expected the more intimately one got to know his heavenly Father. Jesus suggested that God would never say no to anything his children asked for, but then he clarified what he said with this statement, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13). In other words, we should be asking God for spiritual, not physical resources.

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