Summary: The Lord’s prayer is our starting point in learning how to pray effectively. Many points are included in these few verses to help us see our prayers answered and our life protected from sin.
The Lord’s Prayer
INTRODUCTION: Every Sunday a part of our worship includes praying, “The Lord’s Prayer.” We would feel that there was something missing in the prayer time if this part were omitted; but do we know what we are praying or are we merely repeating words because it is the accepted thing to do? Is it similar to saying the blessing over our meals, “God is great, God is good, Let us thank Him for our food” or children saying, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.” Sometimes these memorized prayers lose their meaning because we have said them so many times. What does it mean to us personally to pray the Lord’s prayer? Does it make a difference in our lives or are we merely going through the motions because it is the “accepted” thing to do?
Story: One evening, a little girl was saying bedtime prayers with her mother.
“Dear Harold, please bless Mother and Daddy and all my friends,” she prayed.
“Wait a minute,” interrupted her Mother. “Who’s Harold?”
“That’s God’s name,” was the answer.
“Who told you that was God’s name?” asked the mother.
“I learned it in Sunday school, Mommy. Our Father, Who art in heaven, Harold be Thy name.”
As I began to think about this prayer, I found some things in it that should make a difference in our lives. Today I would like to focus on some of these things.
The structure of the prayer is divided into two main sections. The first three petitions have to do exclusively with God and the requests are in a descending order from God Himself down to the manifestation of Himself in His kingdom.
For example the first is Thy Name be Hallowed
The Second Thy Kingdom Come
The Third Thy Will be done
You are moving from the center--God in heaven to earth.
The remaining 4 petitions have to do with ourselves but they are in an ascending scale from our human needs to our final deliverance from all evil.
The first here is Give us our bread
Then Forgive us our debts
Third Lead us not into temptation
Fourth Deliver us from evil.
Some people combine lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil as one petition.
So there are 6 or 7 requests that are included in the Lord’s prayer. How do they apply to our lives?
1. Our Father: in the beginning of this prayer we see that God is not only majestic and holy but also Personal and Loving. The prayer Our Father brings about a brightness and warmth over the entire prayer. He is both transcendent over the entire universe, but He is immanent and near to us--a personal God. We must not include one without the other. We need a vast and powerful God who is in control of things, but we also need to know that He is only a prayer away and is close to us as individuals. We say, “Our” Father. Not the father of someone else but OURS. He is distinguished from earthly fathers. He is our Heavenly father. We don’t have to get someone else to do our praying for us. We can do it ourselves. How do we know this?
Psalm 145:18 says, “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth." You are a part of the ALL.
Psalm 34:15 says, “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open unto their cry. Are you righteous? This simply means in RIGHT STANDING with God? Then this applies to you.
Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”
The fatherhood of God is not a central theme in the Old Testament. Not until Jesus is it characteristic to address God as OUR FATHER. Jesus addressed God as His father and taught His disciples to do the same. (Mark 14:36). People were more used to emphasizing God’s transcendence. In this prayer Jesus is emphasizing that God is personal. There is a relationship that exists between Jesus’ disciples and God--in this sense He is not the father of all people indiscriminately (5:45).
In this verse we are also told who to pray to--Our Father, not to Jesus or to the Holy Spirit. But to God the Father. There are other scriptures that tell us to pray in Jesus Name (John 16:23,24). Jesus said, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” But we start out Our FATHER because this is how our Lord taught us to pray.