Scriptures: Luke 11:1-2, Matthew 6:9, John 17:1,Mark 7:34, John 11:41, Ephesians 2:6, Colossians 1:13, 2 Corinthians 12:2, Matthew 5:34, Acts 7:49, John 4:24
In the middle of the greatest sermon ever taught we find the greatest prayer ever spoken. Thousands upon thousands of sermons have been preached using this prayer as the topic. Nearly every person can recite it. Perhaps it should be called the Believer's prayer in that the Lord gave it to Believers. Yet, it is the Lord's prayer in that it is his technique of prayer. Not only did the Lord teach it in the Sermon on the Mount, he also taught it privately to his disciples. They observed the Lord praying one day and asked that he teach them about prayer.
Luke 11:1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."
Luke 11:2 He said to them, "When you pray, say: "'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come
Were you or I to ask the Lord today how to pray, he would tell us exactly what we are beginning to look at today. If every person who prays would pray this one prayer with sincerity, the world would change and the kingdom of heaven would come in one day. We would realize that we are one family of brothers and sisters. We would see the wonder of Father. We would diligently seek his will for our lives. We would learn to rely on him for our daily provisions. We would never experience bitterness and not forgive. We would allow him to lead us away from temptation. We would be delivered from every evil plan of the enemy. The world would change in one day if believers would sincerely pray this prayer.
The ingredients of the prayer are eight focused thoughts. The first four focus on God. They are: (1) "Our Father," (2) "hallowed be your name"; (3) "your kingdom come"; and (4) "your will be done." The last four focus on us. They are: (1) "give us"; (2) "forgive us"; (3) "lead us not"; and (4) "deliver us." We will be discussing these eight thoughts for the next several weeks in hopes that they will become even more meaningful to us. However, allow me to say this up front. Though most of everything we would ever pray about will come up as we talk with Father about these eight thoughts, this is not all we are to talk about. The emphasis of Jesus is that we can talk to Father about anything from his kingdom to our temptations.
Most of us learned this prayer as children. We cannot count the times we have repeated it, but have we ever truly prayed it? Often we have done with it exactly what Jesus instructed us not to do (Mat 6:17 "babbling" "vain repetitions"). We have memorized the words and because of that familiarity, we don't pray the prayer. Today I want to simply look at the first few words that Jesus gave us to say when we pray.
Matthew 6:9 "This, then, is how you should pray: "'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
THIS, THEN, IS HOW YOU SHOULD PRAY . . . After Jesus gave us some instructions on how not to pray - not like the hypocrites wearing our religious masks to be seen and heard by men and not with meaningless babbling - he told us how we should pray. We should find a private place where we can be alone with the Father. Jesus used the example of the broom closet with the door shut.
Jesus said, ". . . you should pray," but prayer is boring, right? I want to ask a question. Do we enjoy spending time with a person who is boring and place demands of our time and causes us to feel obligated to do things for him or her? I don't. Here is my point. God is boring to many people. We would never admit that, but we feel he is boring. We think church is boring. Having to sit here and listen to me talk is boring. But should any of these be boring? Should prayer be boring? Of course it should not. Jesus is about to help us.
As with everything in the kingdom, the attitude by which we approach it makes all the difference. As we have seen by the way the hypocrites and pagans pray, prayer can be a waste of time. If done with the correct attitude, prayer can give us tremendous understanding about life and bring us great success. Prayer will keep us walking in the favor of God and man. Prayer will help us avoid failure in life. In short, prayer can be the difference of a successful life or a life of heartache and failure. It begins with our attitudes.
Matthew 6:9 This, then, is how you should pray: "Our Father . . ."
"OUR . . . ": It is interesting that Jesus did not tell us to say, "My Father . . ." He said to say, "Our Father." The prayer begins with the word "Our." God is "Our Father."
Saying, "Our Father" will connect our lives with the lives of others. Never do the scriptures encourage the isolation of the Believer. The opposite is true. We are encouraged to fellowship with one another, pray for one another, assist one another, love one another, forgive one another, and so on and so forth. Saying "Our Father" helps us realize that we truly are brothers and sisters. We not only need Father. We need one another. Praying "Our Father" allows me to think about my friends and pray for them. It allows me to pray for people who need prayer for whatever reason. It helps me pray for people that I have let down.
When we pray "Our Father," we are all on level ground. What I mean is that I realize that I have some white brothers and sisters and I have some black brothers and sisters. I have some Jewish brothers and sisters and I have some Gentile brothers and sisters. I have some wealthy brothers and sisters and I have some that are not wealthy. When I pray "Our Father," I see the world differently. If prejudice is there, I get to talk to Father about it. If we could really get a handle on this one thought, what would happen to racism, prejudice and poverty? I do not agree with Communism, but I do like common-ism in that we are here for each other and not only for self. We are on level ground when we say, "Our Father." Jesus said we should begin with the word "Our."
How are we on this one? Any racism or prejudice in your heart? Remember, God is "OUR Father."
Matthew 6:9 This, then, is how you should pray: "Our Father . . ."
FATHER: Jesus began teaching about the 'nuts and bolts' of prayer in a unique way. In the Old Covenant, God had many names. Basically he was the God of whatever was needed. He would supply the need and then be given that name. Following is a list of 115 names of God from the Old Testament.
1. Elohim: first name for God found in the Old Testament -"strength, might, power."
2. Elohay Kedem - God of the Beginning
3. Elohay Tz'vaot - God Of Hosts, or God of Armies
4. Elohay Mishpat - God Of Justice
5. Elohay Selichot - God Of Forgiveness
6. Elohay Marom - God Of Heights
7. Elohay Mikarov - God Who Is Nea
8. Elohay Chasdi - God Of My Kindness
9. Elohay Mauzi - God Of My Strength
10. Elohay Tehilati - God Of My Praise
11. Elohay Yishi - God Of My Salvation
12. Elohay Elohim - God Of Gods
13. Elohay Tzur - God Of Rock
14. Elohay Kol Basar - God Of All Flesh
15. Elohay HaRuchot LeKol Basar - God Of The Spirits Of All Flesh
16. Elohim Kedoshim - Holy God
17. Elohim Chaiyim - Living God
18. El HaNe'eman - The Faithful God
19. El HaGadol - The Great God
20. El HaKadosh - The Holy God
21. El Yisrael - The God Of Israel
22. El HaShamayim - The God Of The Heavens
23. El Sali - God Of My Rock
24. El Simchat Gili - God The Joy Of My Exaltation
25. El Rah'ee - The God Who Sees
26. El HaKavod - The God Of Glory
27. El De'ot - The God Of Knowledge
28. El Olam - The God Of Eternity, or The God Of The Universe
29. El Emet - The God Of Truth
30. El Emunah - The Faithful God
31. El Yeshuati - The God Of My Salvation
32. El Chaiyai - The God Of My Life
33. El Echad - The One God
34. El Rachum - The God Of Compassion
35. El Chanun - The Gracious God
36. El Kana - The Jealous God
37. El Tzadik - The Righteous God
38. El Shaddai - God The All Sufficient
39. El Elyon - The Most High God
40. El Yeshurun - The God of Yeshurun
41. El Gibor - The Mighty God
42. Immanu El - God Is With Us
43. Elah Yerush'lem - God of Jerusalem
44. Elah Yisrael - God of Israel
45. Elah Sh'maya - God of Heaven
46. Elah Sh'maya V'Arah - God of Heaven and Earth
47. YHVH - "I AM WHO I AM" (pronounce YHVH as Jehovah or Yaweh)
48. YHVH Elohim - LORD God
49. YHVH M'kadesh - The LORD Who Makes Holy
50. YHVH Yireh - The LORD Who Sees
51. YHVH Nisi - The LORD My Miracle, or The LORD My Banner
52. YHVH Shalom - The LORD Of Peace
53. YHVH Tzidkaynu - The LORD Our Righteousness
54. YHVH Rofehcha - The LORD Who Heals You
55. YHVH Tz'vaot - The LORD Of Armies
56. YHVH O'saynu - The LORD our Maker
57. Yah - the LORD
58 . Adonai - "my lords."
59. Adonay HaAdonim - Lord Of The Lords
OTHER NAMES AND TITLES OF GOD IN THE
60. HaShem - The Name
61. God Of Abraham, God Of Isaac, And God Of Jacob
62. The Great Mighty Awesome God
63. Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Father Of Eternity, Prince Of Peace: (Isaiah 9:6)
64. Father: (Isaiah 64:8)
65. Holy One
66. Holy One Of Israel
67. Upright One
69. Light Of Israel
70. Light To The Nations
71. Our Dwelling Place
74. Tower Of Strength
76. Hiding Place
80. Rock Of My Strength
81. Rock Of Israel
83. Stone of Israel
85. My Portion In The Land Of The Living
86. The Portion Of My Inheritance
87. My Cup
90. Crown and Diadem
92. Tent Peg, Bow Of Battle
96. Creator Of Israel
98. Shepherd Of Israel
99. Messenger Of The Covenant
101. Redeemer of Israel
103. My Lovingkindness
105. The King
106. King Of Israel
107. King Of Glory
108. Lord Of All The Earth
109. Ancient of Days
110. The Most High
111. Covenant To The People
113. The Angel
114. The Arm Of The Lord
115. Ruler In Israel
God was known by all those names and more. To me, that is a little overwhelming and complicated. God is all that those names mean and more, but how personal can I be with Shiloh or El or The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? How relational can I be with Elah Yerush'lem or HaShem? I will most likely dread praying even more if I must remember all those names and meanings.
The attempt of the teachers of Jesus' day and of those before him was to make God extremely complicated and transcendent (unknowable / distant). Only the High Priest had direct access to God. Only the Levitical priests could minister for God. Only the prophets had any spiritual gifting. God was too big, too powerful, too far away, too elevated, too spiritual, and too complicated for anyone other than a selected few to approach.
We can see a partial maintenance of that philosophy today. For example, the Pope is seen as "the" special person to the Roman Catholic faith. Denominations and non-denominations have personalities that project the "God sees me as special and if you want him to bless you then you must go through me." In the Charismatic circles, we have apostles and prophets and evangelists and pastors and teachers who are "the main ones." As excessive as we are today concerning this, we would still need to magnify today about a thousand times to be close to the way the people hearing the Sermon on the Mount had been taught to think. They had to have their priests and Pharisees for their personal approach to God and blessings from God. The possibilities of normal people having spiritual gifts were out of the question. So, when Jesus said that common people could address God as Father, it was absolutely revolutionary. Jesus was telling them that they could address God as Father and that they could enter a closed broom closet and talk to God like they could talk to dad - how could that be?
I want to make certain that we hear this next statement. Jesus only addressed God as Father. HE NEVER ADDRESSED HIM AS ANYTHING ELSE. The gospels record Jesus using "Father" more than sixty times in reference to God. Jesus taught about "God" and talked about "God," but when Jesus personally addressed God, it was always as "Father." 'Father' is the Christian name for God. I love all those Old Testament names. They make for great teaching, but Jesus never went there when he taught. In fact, he went in the other direction. He taught God as a loving caring Father with whom we could go into a room, close the door, and have a talk. God is all those things that all those names imply, but what he desperately desires to be to you and I is "Father."
I was listening to a Christian television program just yesterday as I write. The preacher was preaching about all the different names of God. He was rattling off those names and, I admit, it was impressive. I didn't know if he was pronouncing them correctly or not, but what he was saying sounded good. However, Jesus simply said to address God as "Father." Jesus never said, "Jehovah." He never said, "Elohim" or "Adonai" or "Jehovah Jirah." He never taught us to use those terms. Jesus said, "This is how you should pray say 'Our Father . . . '"
The Greek word used here for Father is pater pronounced pat-ayr' (Strong's #3962). The word primarily means (1) generator or male ancestor; (1.a) the nearest ancestor, both parents; (2.) one who has infused his own spirit into others, who actuates and governs their minds. Jesus transferred all the distant, overwhelming, and complicated teachings and ideas about God to an intense, practical, and enjoyable experience in which we, as it was, individually sit down with mom and dad and talk about important things because we have his spirit.
I don't know what your natural father on earth was like, but I had a wonderful loving physical father. When I think of a father, I think of trust and faithfulness. I think of love and compassion and security. I think of encouragement and how proud he was of me, and I think discipline. I realize that many people did not have fathers like that, but our heavenly Father is like that. If your dad wasn't a good dad, then imagine the greatest dad you can. That's the image that Jesus gives us.
No one in the entire history of the world ever prayed like Jesus. NO ONE! But Jesus did not go through rituals when he prayed. Allow me to explain what I mean. We did a study on the Book of St. John. I began noting how Jesus prayed. John 17:1 says, "These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said." Here is what I wrote in that study. " Our basic prayer position, kneeling, standing, sitting, etc. is with closed eyes. Is this because we shut out the world, or is it because this is the way we have seen others pray? Jesus lifted up his eyes. In public, I usually pray with my eyes closed. Alone, in prayer and conversation with Father, I never close my eyes. I don't close my eyes when I talk to you. That would be rude, would it not? If my son or daughter came to me in request, but talked to me with their eyes closed, I would think something was wrong with them."(1) Here are a few verses about Jesus praying.
John 17:1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.
Mark 7:34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, "Ephphatha!" (which means, "Be opened!").
John 11:41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me.
My point is that prayer should not be "religious." It must be relational. For example, what was you doing when you had the most memorable conversation with your earthly father and/or mother? You probably didn't have your eyes closed. Most likely you were not on your knees. Most likely you didn't speak in King James English using words like "Thee" and "Thou" and "knowest" etc. One of my most memorable conversations with my dad was when watching television. He was sitting in a recliner and so was I. One of my most memorable memories with my mom was driving in a car. I trust you don't close your eyes when you praying and driving. The point is that Jesus wants us to be relational in prayer and not religious. It's "Our Father . . ."
IN HEAVEN . . . :
Matthew 6:9 Our Father in heaven . . .
What does heaven mean to you? Does "heaven" only mean somewhere in the sky beyond the clouds out in space? If so, then please help me with the following verse.
Ephesians 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
"Places" is plural. There is more than one dimension of heaven. According to the Bible, if we are in Christ Jesus then we are at this moment seated in heavenly places. We are in heaven.
Is the kingdom of heaven only in heaven as in the sky? If so, then why did Jesus spend so much time telling us how to live in it now? If so, then why does he tell us to pray that the kingdom come to earth? How is it that we have already been brought into the kingdom?
Colossians 1:13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,
If heaven is only out in the sky then how was it that the Apostle Paul was caught into the third heaven, but never left earth?
2 Corinthians 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven . . .
My point is that Jesus does not mean that Father is way distant in outer space sitting in a big chair when he said to pray "Our Father in heaven."
Allow me to give us a New Testament definition of heaven.
Matthew 5:34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:
Acts 7:49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?
Heaven is God's throne or kingdom or what God rules. If he rules my life then I have been caught up and sit in heaven because I am in Christ Jesus. I have been brought into the kingdom even though I am on earth. Now my life's goal is to do all I can to bring his kingdom to earth as it is in heaven - his throne.
Jesus meant that Father is not fleshly. He is heavenly. He is a Spirit being.
John 4:24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.
It's not that our heavenly Father is way out there in heaven. He is as close as our spirit. If you are a child of God then you are sitting with him right now in heavenly places. Let's enjoy the visit. When I pray, I climb up in the throne with Father. I climb up into heaven. I enjoy the time with "Our Father in heaven."
1. Delbert Young, A Study of the Gospel According to St. John, part 2, p. 81