Summary: Part 2 in a series on the Lord’s Prayer
Intro. – God’s supreme purpose for prayer, the purpose beyond all other purposes, is to glorify Himself. Although nothing benefits a believer more than prayer, the purpose in praying must first of all be for the sake of God, not self. Prayer is, above all, an opportunity for God to manifest His goodness and glory.
Because prayer is so important and because we often do not have the wisdom to pray as we ought or for what we ought, God has commissioned the Holy Spirit to help us (Romans 8:26).
In the few words of Luke 11:1-4 Jesus gives a succinct but marvelously comprehensive outline of what true prayer should be.
The prayer has two sections:
1. The first section deals with God’s glory (vs. 2) and,
2. The second with man’s need (vs. 3-4).
It is significant that Jesus makes no mention of where prayer should take place. However, in other places Jesus taught the importance of being single-minded in prayer – that is the importance of shutting everything out of earthly concern and focusing only on God.
Jesus does not specify a time to pray. Jesus, as well as saints of both the Old and New Testaments, prayed at every hour of the day and night. They can be seen praying at regular, habitual times, on special occasions, when in special danger, when specially blessed, before meals and after meals, when arriving at a destination and when leaving, and in every other conceivable circumstance and for every other conceivable good purpose.
Jesus did not specify what we should wear or the posture with which we should pray.
Jesus emphasized that it is the attitude and content of prayer that are important and those two things are central to the pattern He now prescribes.
In any posture, in any attire, at any time, in any place, and under any circumstance prayer is appropriate. Prayer is to be a total way of life, an open and constant communion with God (Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Prayer is to be a way of life, and because it is we need to understand how to pray; and that is why Jesus gave His followers this model prayer.
As with all of the Sermon on the Mount, what Jesus says about prayer was not essentially new. The Old Testament, and even Jewish tradition, taught all of the basic principles that Jesus presents here. Many faults and perversions—such as praying to be seen of men and meaningless repetitions — had crept into Jewish prayer life. However, rabbinic tradition was truer to Scripture in its teaching about prayer than perhaps about anything else was. Both the Talmud and the Midrash contain many lofty and helpful teachings about prayer.
From their knowledge of Scripture, Jews rightly believed God wanted them to pray, that He heard and responded to their prayers, and that praying should be continual. From Scripture they also knew that prayer should incorporate certain elements—such as adoration, praise, thanksgiving, a sense of awe at God’s holiness, the desire to obey His commands, confession of sin, concern for others, perseverance, and humility.
But something had gone wrong, and by Jesus’ day most Jews had forgotten the teachings of Scripture and even the sound, biblical teachings of their tradition. Most prayer had become formalized, mechanical, rote, and hypocritical.
After warning against those perversions that had so corrupted Jewish prayer life, our Lord now gives a divine pattern by which kingdom citizens can pray in a way that is pleasing to God.
In fewer than seventy words we find a masterpiece of the infinite mind of God, who alone could compress every conceivable element of true prayer into such a brief and simple form—a form that even a young child can understand but the most mature believer cannot fully comprehend.
The purpose of prayer is seen more in the overall thrust of these four verses than in any particular word or phrase. From beginning to end the focus is on God, on His adoration, worthiness, and glory. Every aspect of true righteousness, the righteousness that characterizes God’s kingdom citizens, focuses on Him. Prayer could hardly be an exception. Prayer is not trying to get God to agree with us or to provide for our selfish desires. Prayer is affirming God’s sovereignty, righteousness, and majesty and seeking to conform our desires and our purposes to His will and glory.
Jesus gives a comprehensive view of all the essential elements of righteous prayer, every one of which centers on God. The first element that I want us to consider as we seek his kingdom and his righteousness is
I. The Fatherhood of God
Transition – Our Father which art in heaven… (vs. 2b)
A. God is Father only of those who have come to His family through His Son, Jesus Christ. On the other hand, Scripture makes it unmistakably clear that God’s fatherhood of unbelievers is only in the sense of being their Creator. Spiritually, unbelievers have another father.