Summary: The Lord's Prayer provides a template for our prayers, this message dives a little deeper into what that means.
If I was to ask for a show of hands as to how many folks here pray I would suspect that virtually everyone would raise their hands. If I was to ask how many folks believe their prayers would be answered hopefully the same number would raise their hands. I mean really, if we don’t believe that our prayers will be answered then why pray?
Some do it because it’s expected, others because it gives them something to do, others are just hedging their bets. I had a friend in high school who wore a cross and a Star of David on a chain. He wasn’t a Christian or a Jew but he said he was trying to cover all the bases.
The bible teaches that not only should we pray but we should expect answers to our prayers, that is we should be surprised when our prayers aren’t answered. Not when they are.
Last week we looked at this same passage from the book of Matthew and dug a little deeper into what Jesus meant when he told the apostles “When you pray” and we discovered that he laid out some ways for us not to pray and some ways for us to pray.
And we can boil it down to say that our prayers are meant to be a conversation. A conversation between our heart and the heart of God. And that won’t happen if we are just reciting words without thinking about what we are saying, or if we are praying for the benefit of human ears.
And then Jesus said When you pray, pray like this. . . and he gives us a template for our prayers. And remember it is easy to fall into the trap where the Lord’s prayer becomes the very thing that Jesus was warning us about. Just words, babbling and vain repetition.
So, let’s dig a little deeper into the Lord’s prayer and see what it can teach us about prayer.
Last week I introduced you to a 14th century preacher by the name of Meister Eckhart, a member of the Dominican order who died while answering to the inquisition in Avignon France around 1328 after being accused of heresy by Pope John XXII
And Eckhart wrote “Good and earnest prayer is a golden ladder which reaches up to heaven, and by which man ascends to God.”
And that is where Jesus begins by leading us up this golden ladder to heaven.
Matthew 6:9 Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. So, first of all Prayer Looks Upward Jesus begins by telling us who we are to pray to. And this establishes the premise of our relationship. This concept of God being our personal father wasn’t a common Jewish expression. In the Old Testament, we see the concept of Father used in reference to God and the collective people of Israel, but here Jesus is telling us that God wants to be our Father and he wants us to be his children.
And that might be tough for you to accept if your experience with your father wasn’t a great one. But, we can’t let our concept of our earthly fathers colour the words of Christ. Because he was speaking from his concept of father, a loving, affirming, protecting father.
And the Father’s name is to be seen as a hallowed name, a holy name. We can’t blaspheme his name one minute and then call on his name in prayer the next minute. And I’ve spoken about this before. Keeping his name holy means that we don’t trivialize it by using it as a curse or as an exclamation.
Remember the name of God shouldn’t be used unless you are talking about him or to him. And using the shortcut OMG is trivializing the name of a Holy God.
And after we establish who we are praying to we need to establish where He is in our lives, Jesus continues: Matthew 6:10 May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Prayer Looks Outward
The Kingdom of Heaven was very much on the heart of Jesus. And the Kingdom exists where His will is done.
The question is what are we praying for? The people that Jesus was talking to would have had a very definite view of the Kingdom of God. To them it was going to be an actual physical place where the Roman oppressors were going to be overthrown and all good Jews were going to live in some form of political Utopia. This may not have been what Jesus had in mind when he spoke of the Kingdom of God.
Remember the very first line that he spoke in what is known as the Sermon on the Mount Matthew 5:3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. That wouldn’t seem to be indicative of a political kingdom but the fact that Jesus spoke often about the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven would indicate that it was something in the forefront of his thoughts.