Our Father in heaven” (Matt. 6:8)? In this post I want to dwell on the two words “in heaven” because they are filled with glorious truth that ought to greatly encourages us when we pray. The Scriptures teach that God is everywhere (omnipresent). Yet in a special way, His abode is located in Heaven. It is the place in which He rules and governs the universe. In the book of Isaiah we read these words, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool...'” (Is. 66:1a).
How is it that God who is everywhere is said to have His throne in Heaven? After all, Solomon rightly noted in his dedication prayer to the Lord, that “heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27). Interestingly, he goes on to say, “And listen to the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive” (1 Kings 8:30). His point is that God cannot be contained in Heaven yet that is where He is. As stated earlier, in a special way, God resides in Heaven. Not that He is limited to Heaven, but that is the place that He rules and governs the universe. When we think of Heaven, we need to recognise that it is the Lord’s throne room. This reality provides us with some important truths to remember.
The recognition of God being in Heaven is significant. Firstly, it reveals His sovereign power (2 Chron. 20:6; Psalm 115:3; Isaiah 40:22). Second, it reveals His omniscience (Psalm 11:4, 102:19 ff.). And finally, it reveals His ability to help (Psalm 123:1).
The Sovereign Power of God
Firstly, it reveals the sovereign power of God. The fact that He rules the universe is a clear indication that He has absolute authority, power and rule over all things. For this reason, the psalmist declared, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3). Because of this reality, Jehoshaphat prayed with confidence,
“O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you” (2 Chron. 20:6).
The doctrine of God’s sovereignty reminds us that He will always fulfil His purposes. When we pray to our Father in Heaven know and understand that this reminds us of His sovereign power.
The Omniscience of God
Secondly, because Heaven is the Lord’s throne room, it reveals His knowledge. How much does God know? He knows everything. That’s right, He knows your struggles, He knows your inner joys, He knows everything about you! David uttered these words, “The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man” (Psalm 11:4). We cannot hide anything from the Lord, He knows all. This ought to be remembered when we pray. Such a reality is a comfort and threat. It is a comfort to know that He knows all our struggles and inner longings to honour Him. But He also knows our secret sins. When you pray, know and understand that God know all.
God’s Ability to Help
Finally, when we think of God’s throne being in Heaven, this reveals His ability to help. We are not immune to trouble and hardship as the people of God (cf. James 1:2). The Christian walk is filled with great joy and triumph, yet this does not mean that times will not get tough. When we are going through difficult times, where do we turn? With great boldness the psalmist said, “To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!” (Psalm 123:1). In his time of need he knew that he must look to the Lord. Also, consider these profound words,
“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ’I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite‘” (Is. 57:15).
The Lord cares for His people and provides help. Knowing then that He is in Heaven ought to fill us with encouragement and enthusiasm because the Lord has the ability to help.
The words, “Our Father in heaven” are simple yet profound. I trust that the wonderful reality behind the two words “in heaven” fill you with great confidence as you come before the Lord in prayer.