The Lord’s Prayer 1
Sermon on the Mount
The Lord’s Prayer 1
A little boy saying bedtime prayers w/ mother / ‘bless mommy, daddy, and God, GIVE ME A NEW BICYCLE!!!’ [shouted] Mom: God’s not deaf, son. / ‘I know, but Grandma’s in the next room, and she’s hard of hearing!’
The Christian life is a life of passion. You either have passion for God and godliness or you have passion for the world and temporal things. Prayer avails us the opportunity to speak our passions to God. Our prayer life also indicates the intensity of our passion. Anyone who has an honest view of himself and an accurate view of God, will realize their utter dependence upon God. Just because we pray, doesn’t mean that our prayers are answered. Just because we cry out to God, doesn’t mean that He hears us.
Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount is teaching the Christian to avoid hypocrisy. Hypocrisy can come out in our giving, our prayer life, and our other spiritual disciplines. Jesus instructs the audience to avoid hypocrisy in prayer and then teaches them how to pray. There is a Divine model to prayer that when followed, aligns our heart with the heart of God and opens the windows of heaven for our lives. This is not a mechanical formula that we must follow to be guaranteed a blessing. The pattern doesn’t leverage God into action. Instead, Jesus gives us this pattern to help us avoid the common pitfalls in prayer.
To pray properly helps the Christian to experience the fullness of communion with Christ and opens the floodgates of blessing. If we do not know how to pray, then it does no good for us to go through the motions. When we pray properly it strengthens our heart and puts ever other aspect of life into proper perspective. Martin Lloyd-Jones said “Man is at his greatest and highest when upon his knees he comes face to face with God.”
Before we delve into Jesus teaching on prayer, I want to remind you of why we are put here on earth. Our ultimate purpose is the same as God’s ultimate purpose, that is, to glorify God. Therefore the ultimate purpose of prayer is for the glory of God. In fact the Jesus’ model prayer is divided into two sections. The first deals with God and His glory, the second, with man and his needs. So prayer is an opportunity for us to focus on God and His glory, in fact, the glory of God should be the center of our prayer.
Now let’s look at the Lord ’s Prayer. You will notice as I have already stated that the first half has to do with God and His glory, and man and his needs second. This is the ideal order of prayer, which, coincidentally, parallels the Ten Commandments. So we could say that this is the perfect prayer. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “The Lord’s Prayer is not merely the pattern prayer, it is the way Christians must pray…The Lord’s prayer in the quintessence of prayer.” Sadly, it is more often mindlessly repeated rather than genuinely prayed. Just like people in Colorado tend to get used to the beauty of the mountains that the rest of us will travel a thousand miles to see, we can become overly familiar with the Lord’s Prayer.
Let us now embark on an in-depth study of the Lord’s Prayer that will help us pray with greater singleness and greater power, just as it has done for thousands throughout the centuries.
I. Our Father
To people who grew up in church and are frequent attenders, that God should be personally addressed as “Father” may not seem out of the ordinary. However, this was absolutely revolutionary in Jesus’ day. In fact in the entire Old Testament the concept of God as someone’s personal Father was not known. He was called “Father” in a sovereign national way, but no one looked to him as their father. In Jesus’ day Jews would not even say His covenant name – Yahweh, so they invented the word, Jehovah, a combination of two separate names for God. Jesus burst onto the scene with an entire different concept of God. All of His prayers addressed God as “Father.”
Even more amazing is the word used for father is the Aramaic word, Abba. This is not a formal word, but a common word which means something similar to “daddy” but with a little more reverent touch to it.
To address God as “Father” has several implications for us. First, it indicates intimacy. How wonderful it is to pass from being the enemy of the great God who reserves justice to the lost, and become a child of the heavenly father. Secondly, it gives us confidence. In Luke eleven Jesus is teaching on persistence in prayer. He makes this statement, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” Calling God “Father” gives the confidence of our prayers being answered, of His favorable disposition towards us. Third, calling God, “Father” is an indication of our closeness. You just don’t call anyone “daddy.” That name is reserved for someone who you have known for a long time and spend all hours with. Father is someone you know well and knows you well.
ILL: To know that God my father gives me great comfort. I am a father myself. I remember fondly those days that I would come home from work and a 3yo girl in pigtails came bounding out the door to greet me. Now its just…Hey dad. I would do almost anything asked of me.
The same is true of God. To call God “Father” indicates that God is eager to lend His power, His ear, and His blessing to His children who are asking petitions for His glory.
II. Hallowed Be Thy Name
“Hallowed” is a term that is strange to us. We hardly ever use this term anymore. The word means “to set apart as holy” or to “treat as holy.” It is a term that means to reverence. The idea is that we are to bestow honor to the name of God.
The “name” of God is all that is true of God and all that has been revealed concerning God. The name means all His attributes, al that He has done and all that He is doing. So to hallow the name of God is to express a burning deep desire for the honor and glory of God.
Martin Luther said that God’s name is hallowed when, “Our life and doctrine are truly Christian.” In other words, to say “Hallowed be thy name” is just idle talk unless the words are backed up by our life. We by our words and lives become reflectors of the greatness and glory of God and His attributes.
This is what the petition means. It is our burning desire that the whole world may bow before God in adoration, in reverence, in praise, in worship, in honor and thanksgiving. That should be our supreme desire or passion. When we begin looking at prayer this way, we begin to see how valueless much of our prayer is.
How then can we hallow God’s name with our life?
A. Do not profane God’s name with our mouth
Avoid swearing our taking the Lord’s name in vain. This is probably the easiest part of hallowing the name of God.
B. Worship God publicly and privately
On Sunday morning do the hymns, Scriptures and prayers lift up the name of God? Do you lift up His name in private? To revere God means to consciously draw thoughts of him into our life. Thoughts of Him should pervade our daily thought, daily word and daily action.
C. Hold beliefs are worthy of God
Do we understand and honor God? Do we breathe in His majesty? Are we seeking a deeper relationship and understanding of God? To discover truth about God demonstrates that you reverence His name. To be willfully ignorant and believe wrong doctrine show irreverence. We cannot revere the God whose character and will we do not know or care about.
D. Live a life that honors God
Are you abstaining from evil? Are you avoiding corrupting influences and walking in wisdom and prudence? Do you meditate on things above and not on temporal things here on earth? Do you treasure the eternal and despise the temporal? For a Christian to live in disobedience to God is to take His name in vain.
III. Thy Kingdom Come
This is the logical next petition of prayer. Because when we start asking that God’s named be revered and we realize that most of the world does not revere God’s name, then we begin to ask for God’s kingdom to come. Our greatest desire should be to see Christ come reign as king in his kingdom. His reign as king in our lives should be our preoccupation in our life and prayer.
So our petition really amounts to this. We should have great longings and desire that the kingdom of God may come in the hearts of men. It has to start with our own heart, because it is to the extent that we worship Him, and surrender our lives to Him, and are led by Him, that His kingdom comes into our hearts.
Throughout the centuries the followers of Jesus suffering savage persecution have prayed this prayer. But today we sit in comfortable pews and would probably be insincere if we were to repeat this phrase today. We would have no objection to Christ’s coming as long as we are able to finish our degree, see our children get married, allows us to succeed in business or be able to see our grandchildren. Do we really hunger for the Kingdom of God to come in all its greatness or are we content to waddle through a swamp of insincerity and unrighteousness?
How self-centered are our prayers usually are, focused on our needs, our plans, our aspirations, and our understandings. We are often like tiny infants, who know of no world but the world of their own feelings and wants. One of the greatest struggles of the Christian life is to fight the sinful nature in us with its unrelenting focus upon self.
IV. Thy Will Be Done
Submitting our wills to God is one of our greatest needs, though none of us finds it easy.
If we are praying that God will be done on earth then:
A. We are committing ourselves to learning everything we can about his will.
This means a sustained and humble study of the scripture. It irks me to hear people who insist on the authority and infallibility of the scriptures yet those same Christians do not diligently work at learning the scriptures. How many of you can intelligently discuss the difference of the portraits of Jesus painted in the Gospels? Can you discuss what you have learned about God’s will in Exodus? What is the theme of Zechariah or Ephesians? What have you learned this week in your personal study of the scripture that has prompted an improvement in your life?
If we are praying that God will be done on earth then:
We are praying that God’s will become our own.
When God’s will becomes our own, self gets shoved to the back and God becomes more preeminent. His desires are our own.
When God’s will becomes our own then our prayers become prayers of faith that are consistently answered. When you pray do you have confidence that your prayer will make a difference in your life, in other people’s lives or the church?
John Hannah said that, “The end of prayer is not so much tangible answers as a deepening of a life of dependency…it is a call to love, submission, obedience, intimate and intense fellowship with the infinite creator.”