Summary: Second in a series on the Lord's Prayer
1 Our Father
Martin Luther is credited with saying, “Just as the business of the tailor is making clothes and the business of the cobbler is making shoes, so the business of the Christian is praying.” If that’s true, I have a question for us this morning: How’s business?
Prayer is vital for followers of Jesus, but prayer is not so much what’s involved with the words as it is in the attitude behind those words. And the model prayer of Jesus gives us a template that guides the direction our prayers and the attitude of our hearts.
Now, Jesus gave this example of how prayer works in Matthew 6 and again in Luke 11, in response to a question his disciples asked Him. And by his response, we know that he wanted His disciples to know how to pray…
So how do we pray? That’s a question we asked each other last week as we began to look at the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus first offered this model prayer to his disciples during what might be his most famous sermon…the Sermon on the Mount that’s written about relatively early in the book of Matthew, and it’s repeated in Luke 11.
Now, this wasn’t a prayer that Jesus gave us to just memorize and regurgitate back to God. He didn’t intend for us to get hung up on the words. He wanted us to pay attention to the structure of the prayer. It’s a template not a mandate.
So as we begin to move through the prayer of Jesus, he starts with letting us know about the commonality we have in Christianity with just one word. 2 “Our.” From the first word, Jesus shows that we have a connection not only to God but to other people. This prayer unites us, and expresses unity within the fellowship of all believers. It helps us realize that we aren’t in this alone.
There’s something reassuring and comfortable about fellowship – about being connected with each other. Our. It reminds us to link arms because we have some things in common.
That’s one of the qualities I’ve learned to like the most about our church – the way we stick together and work together for the common good. This is what “our” looks like. People in our church do a ton of things for each other and for the Kingdom, many of which go unseen. It’s the power of “our.”
As I was thinking about that this week I jotted down just a cross-section of what I mean by that. Over the last few weeks, Cookie, John & Eric did a massive clean-up around the building. Lois manages our kitchen and she or John make coffee for us every week. Carol drives her ministry to connect with people – visits, phone calls, noticing who’s here and who’s not.
Jenny and Brian take care of our finances. Denise coordinates church dinners. Ed teaches on Wednesdays and Sundays. Jim manages our facility. Camille and Michelle help decorate the building, especially at Christmas. And I know that’s nowhere near recognizing everything that gets done and everyone who works hard to make our church someplace special.
But it represents the power of “our.” We’re interconnected and we need each other. We’re here for each other through all of life’s ups and downs. And from the first word of the prayer Jesus taught us, he shows that we have a connection not only to God but to other people and that should hopefully lower the defenses we may harbor when it comes to church or the things of God. Because of “our,” Jesus makes the church inclusive and welcoming. That’s why we call it “our church home.”
3 Jesus said, 9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” He sets the tone at the start by honoring the Father. “Father.” It’s a term of endearment. It’s an intimate and personal family-like approach to prayer. It’s reassuring and it makes God approachable. At the time Jesus laid this out, that was a foreign concept in the average Jewish home,
The word "Father" says a lot about our relationship to God. Prior to Jesus’ coming, most people wouldn’t presume to address God as their "Father"; but Jesus changed all that. Jesus startled people by repeatedly calling God His Father.
In the Old Testament God is spoken of as our Father, but there are no examples of anyone praying to God using the word, “Father.” To address God as Father seemed too familiar and presumptuous. But all that changed through the work of Christ. Now we are privileged to call God our Father. He is not distant or out of touch. He is with us.
If we visit the OT, we’ll find that God was referred to by pseudo-names and in hushed whispers because everyone feared that they may upset him or dishonor His name. And when he was mentioned it was YAHWEH…and NEVER was He referred to as the Heavenly Father!