When we take our children to our local cinema several things are guaranteed. There is an expectancy that the film will be good. There is also a degree of community in that we always meet people we know. So the experience is well worth it. This is very different from where I grew up. We went to cinemas with up to 18 screens. There was an expectancy but no sense of community.
The disciples watched Jesus pray but then at one point they asked for him to show them how to do it. We might wonder what Jesus praying looked like. What was it that made them ask? Yet the words Jesus taught them reveal what it was like. It started with a simple phrase, “Our Father in heaven.” This phrase goes back to Exodus 4:22. God said to Moses to tell the Pharaoh, “Israel is my firstborn son, let him go that he may worship me”. This shows that if Israel is God’s son then God must be Israel’s Father. This shows a community but also more than that a community with expectancy. If God says you are going to be freed, then I imagine it is pretty sensible to have an expectation that freedom will be coming your way. Not only this, but in teaching us to address God as Father, we become as Israel, God’s children for whom God is working for freedom from sin, from despair, from affliction and from death itself.
So in the Lord’s prayer, Jesus is showing us that when we follow him by faith in him, we are the community of God and this is why we can pray with the words “Our Father”. More than that, we are the community with expectancy that God is working for us since we are to pray, not simply Almighty God, but “Our Father in heaven.” How are you with prayer? Is it for you a community activity that carries expectancy, or is the cinema the only place these days where you find community and expectancy?