Teach Us To Pray Part 2
Our Father in Heaven – Matthew 6:5-8
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – Sept. 9th, 2018
- Last week we looked at the answer to the question the disciples rightly asked Jesus: “Teach us to pray.” Again, it is important to note that this is the only thing the disciples asked Jesus to teach them. They observed Jesus and connected the link between who He was, what he did, and what He accomplished to His prayer life. So, they asked Him, “Teach us to pray.”
- In answering this question, Jesus first had to correct the concepts of prayer that they had seen in others and perhaps practiced themselves. He told them first to “not pray like the hypocrites,” who saw prayer as an act in order to receive praise from people. He also told them not to “heap up empty phrases” – don’t pray what you don’t mean and don’t mindlessly pray for things or look for the right words in order that God would hear you. If you want to have a powerful and effective prayer life than you must avoid praying these two ways.
- Jesus then said, “Pray then like this”(Matt. 6:9a ESV) – pray in this way or pray in this manner. He did not say “pray these words.” Doing so would lead us to praying “empty phrases” even though it is good to have “the Lord’s Prayer” memorized. We are to pray in this fashion using what He taught as a guideline as to how we pray.
Matt 6:9-13 ESV
Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
- The first focus in prayer is God – His name, His glory, His kingdom, and His will. The second focus is on us – our needs, our relationships, our temptations, our protection.
- This is the proper order: if we have our first focus on God (an expression of putting Him first, over everything including ourselves) then this is the right expression and placement of our faith. When we get things out of order and out of line (putting us first and our will over God’s we are looking to take His place – which is not a good place for us to be. Submitting ourselves to Him, with the focus on the things that are His priorities, then frees us to pray in a way that is lined up with His will – His good, perfect and pleasing will.
- Our Father in heaven. . . let’s take a look at these opening words of this prayer.
- Some people have a hard time praying “our Father” because of a negative or traumatic experience with their father. The good news is that we are not praying to “your father” but to “our father”. Your father is imperfect, flawed and in some cases down right abusive. Our Father is perfect, full of love, strength and wisdom. Understand the goodness of God and don’t apply the failing of your own father. Our Father is a “good, good Father.”
- Jesus taught his disciples (and therefore us) to address God as “Father” in prayer. This was a major shift from all the prayers recorded in the Old Testament. There is not a single example of a prayer in the Old Testament that address God as Father. The closest is “God of our Fathers . . . Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” In contrast, every prayer of Jesus recorded in the New Testament addresses God as “Father,” with the exception of one. This was a major shift- so much so that the Pharisees (religious teachers) when they heard Jesus address God as “Father” wanted to kill him, because in doing so Jesus revealed himself to be the unique Son of God and equal with God.
John 5:18 ESV
This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
- Jesus is the only one who has the inherent right to call God “Father” because He is the “only begotten” son (John 3:16). He was uniquely “born of God” – even though He existed from eternity He was born of the flesh like no other person. Jesus had a “right by birth” to call God His Father.
- What about us?We can call God “our Father” because we have been adopted into the family therefor make us Children of God and giving us the right to call God “our Father.”
Gal 4:4-5 ESV
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
John 1:12-13 ESV
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
- Isn’t everyone a “Child of God”? In one sense, we can speak of the universal fatherhood of God because He is the creator of the human race. However, when the bible speaks of the Fatherhood of God, the primary emphasis for this title is not based on creation but on redemption. The Fatherhood of God is not inclusive but limited to those who have been adopted into the family because of Christ. All of us are born naturally as “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3), but because of the grace of God through Christ, God has adopted us into His family and we can call God “our Father.” Not everyone is in the family and not everyone has the right to call Him Father but only those who have been adopted into the family.
- There is a priority and privilege of being in the family or in the “brotherhood” that is different than those in the “neighborhood.” The neighborhood is those who are outside the family of God, where the “brotherhood” is those who are inside the family of God. (See the parable of the good Samaritan: the religious teachers thought that only those inside the family of faith were “neighbors,” however, all those in the world are our “neighbors” and those inside the family of faith are “brothers.”) Not everyone can call God “Father” in the biblical sense.
- When we pray “Our Father” we should be reminded of our adoption. We have been grafted into Christ and have been placed in this intimate relationship with God, a relationship we did not have by natural birth but by a supernatural “re-birth” won for us by the perfect obedience of the Son. We have been adopted into the family with all the rights and privileges that give us a home, a name, an inheritance with God, a family of brothers and sisters and an invitation into the will and workings of God.
- Saying “Our Father” is a statement of privilege, priority of relationship and promise for the future. It is a very significant statement that we should cherish, live up to and love.
- This means that the primary dwelling place of God the Father is not on this earth, but in another realm called heaven. This is the place where He dwells and where his throne is (Acts 7:49, Matt 23:22). This is the place that we are addressing when we pray.
- We are connecting with the one who is transcendent (completely other). Even though we were made “in His image” we are not Him (we are not “god or gods” as some people believe). He is outside of time and His spirit is everywhere (omnipresent). He created all things but what he created is not Him (some people think this is the case). He is all-knowing (omniscient) and all-powerful.
- In prayer, we are not connecting to anything of this earth but to the one who created the earth, the one who hears us, the one who knows and the one who can act and will act in response to our prayers that are in line with His wisdom and His will.When we pray, we are calling to our Father in Heaven – the highest and greatest place in all creation. Heaven is the place where God reigns and where power reigns. It is a place of compassion, truth, righteousness and perfection
- Heaven is: the home of the redeemed, a place where there is no sin, suffering or sorrow, a place where everything will be made new and everything will be put right, and the place of our heart’s longing (Matt 6:20-21). Our home is with our Father in His house. Our reward is with our Father in His house. Heaven is the place where Jesus in now and where He will be coming back from (Matt 24:30-31).
- When you pray, don’t pray as a hypocrite, and don’t pray with meaningless words.
- When you pray, first place your focus on God, His name, His glory, His Kingdom, His will.
- When you pray, understand the privilege and importance of being adopted into the family of God and being able to address God as “Father.”
- When you pray, know the one to whom you pray and that He dwells in heaven and all that it entails.