There are two reasons we pray this text back to God every Sunday. First, we believe that it is hard to go wrong with offering up to God a promise in a prayer. And this prayer is a promise. Matt 6:8-9 8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray… God knows what we need before we ask and earlier Jesus said our Father knows and will answer us out of that secret place of His.
Secondly, it is good to establish a pattern for prayer. To pray this prayer regularly establishes a groove in our souls that all future prayer may follow. There are many paths in the woods. Some are cut out with tools others are there by way of simple use. The deer follow the same steps to the water every day and each day they do so the path is established until eventually the way to the water is easy and without obstacle. We desire our prayers to follow a well worn path and for that path to be without obstacle.
With that in mind let me point out two features of this prayer I want you to carry with you as we go through this series. First of all this is a family prayer and secondly it is the Father of the family who answers our prayers.
Family – When Jesus is teaching us to pray He is precise in His language. Though Jesus had told His disciples that they should pray without hypocrisy, locking themselves away if necessary, the communal aspect of their life is never to be forgotten. He is not simply my Father, though He is my Father. He is our Father.
To use this word our is an act of faith. We are following Jesus? example. He is teaching us to pray the way He prays. To say Our Father is to say I believe what Christ says. Thomas Watson said this of phrase:
Christ, by the word “our”, would teach us thus much: that in all our prayers to God, we should exercise faith. Father denotes reverence: Our Father, denotes faith. In all our prayers to God we should exercise faith. Faith baptizes prayer, and gives it a name.
This is the successful prayer, one that is exercised in faith. What makes a prayer a “prayer of faith” as James calls it? Some would have us believe that a prayer of faith is one that I really, really, really want to have happen. So if I just believe it strongly enough it will come to pass. Want that Lexus? Believe that you already own it and God will respond with leather, heated seats and hands off parallel parking. So, do our faithful prayers turn God into some sort of Cosmic Concierge, waiting to make our stay on Earth as stress free as possible? Of course not. Let me give you three things from Thomas Watson that make up a faithful prayer.
First, it is a prayer that is resting on the promises of God. 2 Cor 1:20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. When God answers prayers that are in accord with His promises He receives glory through the one praying! It startles me sometimes to think that God would receive glory by answering me, flawed, sinful, insignificant me. Yet the prayers that meet with His promises are a delight to God and there is every expectation that He will answer them.
Secondly, a faithful prayer focuses in on the faithfulness of God not the shifting soil of our own faithfulness. We pray believing that God will not let His word return unto Him void – that is faith. What a tragic event unbelieving prayer is. With our words we proclaim Him to be almighty God, Everlasting Father and with the heart we vacate those titles of any real meaning. Be believing!
Third, a prayer of faith is one that bound to the name of Jesus Christ. We come to the Father in His Son’s name, under His authority and the Father moves on our behalf for the sake of His Son. Jesus said in John 14:13-14 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. And then in John 16:23-24 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
So a faithful prayer has these three elements and you find these in this petition Jesus teaches us. It hangs on the word’s of Christ at His command, it is based on the promises of God and we afirm at the end that He has the power to accomplish what we ask.
That first “our”is the first of many plural pronouns the Lord uses in this prayer. Notice He is teaching individuals how to pray. But in God’s economy an individual is never alone. There is no such thing as the lone ranger Christian. We, you and I, are part of a community and being part of that community changes the way we pray. Let me give you two ways in which this prayer ought to play around in the corners of your mind each Sunday.
Praying this prayer with intentionality. When we say this on the Lord’s day remember this: The one sitting next to me, She is a child of the King, The one across the room, who made me so angry the other day – he is a son of my Father. Father, forgive us our debts as we forgive one another. Provide her daily bread and do not lead him into temptation. For them, my brothers and sisters, Your children, to be in want or stumble or succumb to evil would be devastating to me. It would be devastating to us.
Remember, that this is the way that Jesus prayed. In Luke 11 where this form of praying was repeated, Jesus was observed in prayer Luke 11:1-2 Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” 2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say… Here is the Son of God teaching His disciples to relate to His Father in prayer in the same manner Jesus did. Luke 6:40 A disciple is not above his teacher , but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher . What a staggering thought, that the Son of God, begotten not made, of one being and essence with the Father, would come and teach us that we are to understand that our relationship to the Father is like His relationship. Not in essence but in relationship. That we are to call Him Our Father, placing ourselves in the family of God with Jesus Christ. We are like Him. That is one of the goals of this prayer by the way. To be like Christ.
If there is anyone who did not have their eyes on self it is Christ. If anyone put His own needs ahead of others it was Jesus. If there is anyone who knows the Father it is the Son. We are to be like Him. We should pray as He prayed.
Isn’t it true that the first things we learn in Scripture are often the most important? Here these words – Our Father – are like the first love we strive to recapture when our flame begins to flicker. To move away from praying along with this petition is like loosing your first love. For it is to move away from the pattern that our Lord gave to us.
So, pray with faith, realize you are part of a family a community of believers and even when you are isolated in the closet of your house, remember you are never to pray as if you are alone. Finally remember that You are to pray like Jesus prayed. Part of this group called ?our? in our Father includes Jesus Christ your Savior.