We continue this morning in our study of the Sermon on the Mount.
We have noted that this sermon is CORRECTIVE in nature.
Jesus is intending to ensure that His Apostles know the errors which had cropped up within Jewish teaching.
Over the past few weeks, we have been examining Jesus’s corrective teaching on prayer.
He has noted that we are NOT to pray as a show unto others.
We are also forbidden from praying in vain repetition - in mindless chanting - as this is not the way God desires us to seek Him.
But Jesus does not just stop with the prohibitions, He also demonstrates what righteous prayer looks like.
He provides for us a model prayer.
This is often referred to as The Lord’s Prayer - but it really is not.
The Lord’s Prayer is found in John 17, wherein Jesus prays to God as an intercessor for His people.
This is the Lord’s MODEL Prayer.
It is not the prayer Jesus would pray, but rather it is the prayer that He has modeled for us to pray.
NOTE: We include this prayer as a part of our corporate worship because we believe one of the purposes of worship is instruction of the body, and by including this prayer we are including the opportunity for the congregation to learn this prayer and apply its principles.
It is not meant to be prayed mindless, in vain repetition - as that would violate Jesus’s own prohibition on prayer.
But it is meant to serve as a model for righteous prayer, and so we rehearse it weekly as both a reminder of its principles and an expression of fidelity to the teachings of Christ.
We are going to examine the model prayer over the coming weeks.
Today we are going to address the opening portion of the prayer, wherein Jesus demonstrates the proper way in which we should enter the presence of God.
And we are also going to see that even in the opening of this prayer, there is a mountain of spiritual significance.
READ: Matthew 6:9-10
When you were a child, did you ever have a time when you were disrespecting your mom and she said, “Who do you think you’re talking to?”
Maybe I am the only one...
But we have all heard this statement, and some of us have possibly used it ourselves.
It is REALITY CHECK for the person who is speaking disrespectfully.
It is a reminder that there is a line which exists - a line of respect - which dare not be crossed.
A person in a position of authority deserves to be addressed with words of respect.
Knowing this, we turn our attention to the way God is often addressed in our society.
We know that He is blasphemed in the media and by unbelievers, which is sad but not surprising.
But He is also addressed very disrespectfully by people who call themselves Christians.
Just listen to people pray....
They are irreverent...
They are impious...
They are demanding...
They are disrespectful...
The Word-Faith movement has spawned an entire generation whose prayers seem more like the whinings of spoiled children than the petitions of devout saints.
Now, to be clear I am not saying that our prayers must be perfect.
What I am saying is that many people in the modern “church” have no idea to Whom they are speaking, and thus they enter into their prayers without a sense of reverence.
QUOTE: John MacArthur “This is an utterly irreverent age.”
He went on to site a survey which said that the majority of people today have never been to a formal event.
As a result, people take a cavalier and casual approach to everything.
They refuse to take anything seriously.
And that includes the presence of God.
Jesus is NOT your homeboy.
Our prayers should never begin with “Hey big guy in the sky, what’s up?”
We are speaking to the God Who created this universe... who created us from dust... who spoke the world into existence.
And we are to enter in His presence with a sense of awe and wonder.
It is no small thing that we are even able to go into His presence in prayer.
Jesus bought us that ability on Calvary's cross.
We are able to enter His throne room “boldly” Scripture says, but never “disrespectfully”.
With that in mind, let us consider the two addresses which Jesus gives us as the model for how we are to enter God’s presence.
Jesus tells us that when we enter the presence of God in prayer, we need to consider two sublime truths...
1. The Fatherhood of God
2. The Holiness of God
The Fatherhood of God
v.9b “Our Father in Heaven”
One of the most precious blessings which is given to the believer is the ability to identify the Creator of the universe as his father.
There is a sense in which God is the father of all mankind, in the sense that He is the Creator of all mankind.
But this is not the sense in which the fatherhood of God is here being used by Christ.
When Jesus admonishes us to call God our Father, it is in the context of the redeemed relationship.
We are created by God, but that does not mean that we are in a relationship with Him.
The relationship that we have with God is established not at birth, but at “the new birth”.
John 1:11-12 “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”
The Apostle Paul describes this more fully in Galatians 4.
Galatians 4:4-7 “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. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
He also makes this point for us again in Romans 8.
Romans 8:15-17 “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
You see, even though we were created by God, because of sin we were not his children.
In fact, we did have a father - but it wasn’t God; the Bible says that prior to our conversion we were under the influence of our father the devil.
Ephesians 2:1-3 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind”
Prior to being born again, we were following Satan.
We were not children of God, we were children of wrath.
But, thanks be to God, He rescued us out of Satan’s hellish grip and adopted us as His own, so that now we can call Him Father.
This portion of the Model Prayer also tells us that this prayer is for believers only.
An unbeliever cannot call God Father.
Certainly, they can utter the words, but they have no basis upon which to establish such a claim.
QUOTE: Charles Spurgeon “I believe that this prayer was never intended for universal use. Jesus Christ taught it not to all men, but to his disciples, and it is a prayer adapted only to those who are the possessors of grace, and are truly converted. In the lips of an ungodly man it is entirely out of place.” (http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0213.htm)
This prayer is for people who have been adopted into the family of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is wholly inappropriate to be used by anyone else.
This is NOT the universal prayer for all mankind.
This prayer is for the one who can truly call God Father, which is impossible to do outside of Christ.
This is why Jesus commends us to pray, “OUR Father”
The “Our” in reference here is not all mankind in general.
The “Our” here are faithful believers, God’s children, His people.
He is NOT the Father of the heathen.
He is NOT the Father of the rebel.
He is NOT the Father of the pagan.
He is NOT the Father of the Buddhist, the Mohammedan, the Mormon, the atheist, or the “orthodox” Jew.
None of these can lay rightful claim to His Fatherhood because they have rejected the mediatorial work of the Son.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6).
No one lays claim to the Fatherhood of God outside of the Sonship of Christ.
The word “Our” is a reference to exclusivity; He is OUR Father.
This is a glorious and sublime truth, that we are blessed to be able to call God “Our Father in Heaven”.
The Holiness of God
v.9c “Hallowed be your name”
The Greek root word here is “Hagias” and it is where we get the word Holy.
To say, “Hallowed by your name” is the same as saying, “Holy be your name.”
The Holiness of God is not something which can be adequately described in a small section of a single sermon.
Men have taken to write entire volumes on the subject.
I highly recommend R.C. Sproul’s “The Holiness of God” for a more expansive treatment of the subject.
But for now, I simply want to address the purpose which this is included within the Lord’s model prayer.
Holiness is God’s “separateness”, His “uniqueness”, and as some have described, His “other-ness”
God has no equal, there is none like Him (Isaiah 46:8-10).
To enter into His presence is to enter into the presence of One who alone is completely and utterly holy.
Which means that when we enter into His presence, we should be absolutely in awe of His being.
The holiness of God is the attribute of God which undergirds all of His other attributes.
His love is holy love.
His justice is holy justice.
His knowledge is holy knowledge.
QUOTE: Brian Schwertely “If you could only use one word to explain the God of Scripture and the purpose of the plan of redemption it would be His holiness.”
In Fact, His holiness is the only part of His nature which is proclaimed to the third degree.
The Bible never says God is “love, love, love” or “justice, justice, justice.”
But, the Angels of heaven proclaim that God is “Holy, Holy, Holy!” (Isaiah 6).
We should never consider ignoring His holiness and treating His presence as something which is common.
That was the sin of Nadab and Abihu.
Leviticus 10:1-3 “Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace.”
The NASB renders this as, “By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored.”
What was the sin which God found so atrocious, so abominable that He would be willing to strike down these men in the prime of their life?
It was trifling with His holiness.
When we enter into God’s presence through prayer, we are entering a holy presence... and as such we ought to treat it as such... it is not something to be trifled with.
The presence of God is never a thing to be taken lightly.
Jesus commends to us that we recognize God’s holiness when we come to Him in prayer.
The word “Hallowed be” is in the “imperative” which means that this is a command... we MUST regard God’s name as Holy.
CONCLUSION: When entering the presence of God through prayer, it is essential that we consider the nature of the One to Whom we are speaking.
Many within the church today do not realize what an absolutely precious blessing it is to call God Father.
Neither do they stand in awe of His holiness when they draw nye unto Him.
Yet, it is these two things which Jesus tells us should be at the forefront of all of our prayers.
This is the pattern which we should follow whenever we enter into His presence in prayer.
We recognize that God is HIGH ABOVE US in regard to His holiness, and yet WILLING TO EMBRACE US as our loving heavenly Father.
To Him be glory forever, Amen.