Summary: Lesson 20
At this point in the Lord’s sermon we come to what is commonly referred to as "The Lord’s Prayer." More properly it should be referred to as "The Model Prayer" or "The Pattern Prayer." While the Lord never literally prayed these words, He does present for us a "model" or a "pattern" that should be followed when praying to the Father. This prayer was never intended to be repeated over and over again becoming nothing more than vain repetition. That this is the case is seen in the fact that Jesus had just warned against "vain repetitions" or the repeating of the same words and phrases over and over again without putting one’s heart and thought into what is being said. That does not necessarily mean that it is wrong to pray this portion of Scripture back to the Lord from time to time, pondering it in our hearts and meditating upon it.
Prayer is the aspect of the Christian life upon which all other things depend. Robert Murray McCheyne wrote, "What a man is on his knees before God, that he is, and nothing more." D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his book, Studies In The Sermon On The Mount, remarked, "Prayer is beyond any question the highest activity of the human soul. Man is at his greatest and highest when, upon his knees, he comes face to face with God ... There is nothing that tells the truth about us as Christian people so much as our prayer life. Everything we do in the Christian life is easier than prayer." (Pages 45-46)
In the following quote, Alan Redpath accurately describes the average Christian’s experience when it comes to prayer. "The experience of most of us when we pray, I feel, is rather like that of the man who was sick of the palsy. He and his four friends believed in the power and in the goodness of the Lord Jesus, but their problem was how to gain access to Him, how to reach His presence.
"Is that not true of us today? How hard it is to get right through into the very presence of God when we pray! How difficult it is to force our way through the crowd of distracting thoughts, of worldly cares, even of sinful desires! ...
"It is not that we do not want to pray. It is rather that our experience in prayer often is such that we rise from our knees disappointed and frustrated, feeling that we have wasted our time in repeating meaningless worn-out phrases which somehow do not mean a great deal to us. When we have finished our praying, we can scarcely bring ourselves to believe that our feeble words can have been heard, or that they can have made any difference in the things concerning which we have been praying. We’ve said our prayers, but we haven’t prayed." (Victorious Praying: Studies In The Lord’s Prayer; pages 11-12)
In this "Model Prayer" Jesus gives us both the manner and method of how to pray and the matters for which to pray. By learning how to pray as Jesus taught, we can avoid being "disappointed and frustrated, feeling that we have wasted our time in repeating meaningless worn-out phrases." By God’s grace we can graduate from having said our prayers to praying in the deepest sense of the word.
"Our Father which art in heaven..."
The words "Our Father which are in heaven":
I. INDICATE A RELATIONSHIP
We should never simply burst into the Lord’s presence by asking for things for ourselves. There is a way to approach God, and that way begins in praise. It begins by giving honor to Him as our Father.
A. God is our Father by Creation
1. The Bible speaks several times of God being our Father by way of creation.
a. Isaiah 64:8
b. Malachi 2:10
c. Acts 17:28 (Note the context of creation as suggested by 17:24.)
2. The fact that God is our Father by creation does not lend credence to the belief in the universal Fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man. We are all God’s creation, but we are not all necessarily God’s children.
3. Jesus invalidates the universal Fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man theory in His discussion with the religious Jews in John 8:37-44.
B. God is our Father through Salvation
1. John 1:12, 20:17
3. Galatians 3:26, 4:4-7
5. 1 John 3:1-2, 5:1
6. To call God our Father means to acknowledge that He has redeemed us and brought us into His family.
7. Whereas we were born the "children of this world" (Luke 16:8), the "children of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2), the "children of wrath" (Ephesians 2:3), the "children of the devil" (1 John 3:10), through salvation we have been translated into "the kingdom of his dear Son." (Colossians 1:13).