I am preparing a series on the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) and will be preaching through this text beginning the second Sunday in July (DV). It should take me four weeks, though I could easily take longer.
Before I get to what I want to talk about, do this… First read the text in Matthew 6 and the other account of Jesus giving these instructions in Luke 11. After that, go back into the Old Testament and see how often people addressed the Lord with such familiarity. Note how many times God is referred to as Father let alone My or Our Father. I will wait… ‘taint many.
In the opening address I am struck by the first two words of our Lord’s prayer. When Jesus teaches his disciples to pray He does not say to them, “Pray in this manner: My Father…” Rather He says ‘hemon Pater’ (transliterated Greek) or “Our Father…”
I wrote a while ago that the Bible was not written to you as a personal lover letter from Jesus to you. I wrote that it was written for a covenant people. Here, Jesus brings this point home in telling individuals to address His Father with the plural pronoun ‘our.’
Jesus gave a good bit of advice on prayer. We are to pray persistently (Luke 11:5ff; 18:1-8). We should pray for our enemies (Matt 5:44). And He tells us to pray with faith etc. But here in this little section of Scripture (at least in the parallel account in Luke 11) Jesus is answering a specific petition: “Lord teach us to pray…”
When we offer up prayers we are not to be like the guys shouting bible versus at people in their four-wheeled, air-conditioned cocoons. Rather Jesus tells us that we should find a nice quiet closet somewhere (vs 6) to offer our prayers. Yet in that quiet place we don’t narrow our prayers to fit the walls. We pray for the body. Jesus points us to the congregation. Our Father, give Us, Our bread, Our debts, Our debtors, lead Us not into temptation, deliver Us. Sure, you are part of OUR and US but you do not make up the total.
Okay, some of you are thinking, “But Al, Jesus said it would be good to leave 99 to find the one and that there in joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.” Sure, but the point of that parable was not to show how special You are, rather it shows that the community of the saved is larger than you think. And that Jesus came to die for sinners who are outside the Holiness Club. You are part of something larger. You are part of the people of God.
We pray the Lord’s Prayer every Sunday at Providence and in so doing we pray not just for ourselves but for the guy and gal sitting next to us. We should really want their tables set with food, their debts forgiven; then we should be actively forgiving them, and praying that God would deliver us all from temptation and the Devil! May God grant us grace to see the body as we pray to Him…
Matt 6:9 In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
PS… Next I am going to talk about heaven and I will leave you with this quote from C.S. Lewis:
All your life an unattainable ecstasy has hovered just beyond the grasp of your consciousness. The day is coming when you will wake to find, beyond all hope, that you have attained it. C S Lewis – The Problem of Pain