The Lord's Prayer (Part One)


Throughout the Bible we see examples of the prayers of men and ladies: Moses at the Red Sea, Moses on Mt. Sinai, Hannah in the temple, the prayer of Jabez, Elijah praying for rain, Hezekiah praying over the Assyrian invasion, Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, John in the Book of Revelation. Although all of these are notable and commendable prayers, what singles out the Lord's Prayer according to Jesus (Luke 11:2)?


Our Father who art in heaven

According to Ps. 103:13 how does God treat people?

There is a radical difference between the way David speaks of our relationship with God and the way Jesus speaks of that relationship. David says that God treats us the way fathers treat their sons; he does NOT say though that God is our Father. This view of God was alien to the Jews. God was their Creator and Lord but not their Father. Jesus, on the other hand, publicly declared God to be His Father. How did the Jews respond when they heard Him say this, and why did they respond this way (John 5:18; 10:30-31)?

According to Rom. 8:15 why are Christians now sons and daughters of God?

What happens to the Christian once the Spirit of God's Son comes to live in us (Rom. 8:16)?

Notice that Jesus' Sonship differs from our sonship. Jesus has been eternally God's Son, while at one point in time we were not His sons and daughters. Although we are now as much God's sons and daughters as Jesus is, we are His children only because and after the Spirit of God's Son came to live in us.

If you are going to approach God the way He wants you to approach Him, then you need to appreciate fully what it means to be God's son or God's daughter. Any decent earthly father likes to spend time with His children. Well, as good a fathers we are, how much better a parent is God. If we love to spend time with our children, how much more so does God love to spend time with His children! God loves you with the same kind of love that you love your children; it's only that He loves us to a greater degree with this love than to the degree that we love our sons and daughters. God WANTS us to pray to Him; God WANTS to grant us our wishes and prayers.

Next, notice that Jesus doesn't simply call God "Father" or "My Father." Rather He calls Him "Our Father." Private prayers are important; however, the emphasis in the NT and OT is on corporate prayer. What does Jesus claim in Matt. 18:20?

I experienced this recently with a friend of mine. When I found out that he was going to be talking to a group, I prayed that God would be with him. Later I saw him as he was about to speak, and I told him that I had prayed for him earlier. As I was about to leave the church, I felt like God wanted me to go back and pray with him personally. After a little bit of an irrational struggle, I went back and asked him if I could pray for him. He agreed. Days later he told me how much that prayer helped him. He had felt good about the talk before we prayed; however, after our prayer together he felt like the talk had been taken to a higher level. It wasn't because I prayed that his talk was ratcheted up to a higher level; it was because God loves for his people to pray together and honors those corporate prayers.

My mom told me that a few years ago when my family was going through so much death and sadness the thing that really helped her through those days was the pastoral prayer B.F. prayed every Sunday morning. Private prayers are important, but so are corporate prayers.

Why does God love corporate prayers? God loves for us to be together, to have legitimate, real fellowship with each other. Remember that God is a relational being. Although there is only ONE God, He nevertheless has existed eternally as THREE persons. Now the 3 persons in the Godhead did not simply exist as three persons; they existed in relationship with each other. When John writes: "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God" (John 1:1), he is saying that the Father (God) and the Word (Jesus, v. 14) were in relationship with each other. The words translated "with God" literally means "towards God." In other words, throughout eternity they were face to face with each other in intimate relationship. By praying together we are getting into an activity which God loves to honor.

Next Jesus describes God as being "in heaven." Too often Christians reduce the idea of God as being "Father" into someone who indulges us in our sin, our narcissism, self-serving. God may not like some things we do; however, when it is all said and done, we feel like God is basically lucky that we have chosen to throw a few crumbs His way. Although we are to enjoy a father/son relationship with Him that is both loving and warm, we are not to reduce it to this cheap idea of God's fatherhood.

To understand the significance of our Father being the God of heaven, think about what it means for Him to be in heaven. God in heaven is enthroned above _____________________ (2 Samuel 6:2). Next, from His throne proceed ____________________________ (Revelation 4:5). He walks upon the _____________________________ (Psalm 104:3). The city which houses Him has 12 gates made of ___________________ (Rev. 21:21). The city itself measures _________ x __________ x _____________ (Rev. 21:16). The walls of the city measure ___________________ (Rev. 21:17). The city is made of this precious stone: ______________ (Rev. 21:11). The 12 foundation stones are composed of (1) ____________________, (2) ____________________, (3) _______________, (4) __________________, (5) ____________________, (6) _________________, (7) __________________, (8) ___________________, (9) ______________, (10) __________________, (11) ___________________, and (12) _______________ (Rev. 21:19-20). The street of the city is composed of _____________ (Rev. 21:21).

And now for a LOTR moment. One of the scenes in the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King which I found really thrilling was the one in which Gandalf and Pippin arrived at Minas Tirith, the City of Kings. It got even more exciting as Gandalf and Pippin rode Shadowfax up the streets of MT until they finally arrived at the great hall of Denethor (the music was extremely effective at this point). The whole time I was watching that I was thinking about not only how splendid the city of Minas Tirith was but also how the splendor of this city was just a taste of the splendor of the city that God Himself inhabits and which will one day be our habitation.

When we marvel at the city God is preparing for us, we need to remember that the glory of this city is nothing less than a reflection of the God who is making that city. It is stunning and glorious because He Himself is stunning and glorious.

The point of the clause "Our Father who art in heaven" is that we worship a Father who is both loving AND worthy of our respect. I think so much about my relationship with my dad when I think about my relationship with God. My dad could be one of the most exciting people in the world to be around. It was nearly always exciting to be around him when the Cowboys or Longhorns were playing. I loved going to movies with him and then him coming out of Charles Bronson movie telling me that Charles Bronson was the greatest American actor. In addition to this, I respected my dad. I might not have always agreed with him; yet I did respect him. Today I have a high regard for authority and have high expectations for authority figures because of his impact on my life. All this applies to God too. I should have a warm and loving relationship with God; however, I should also be respectful in that relationship.

I believe that our worship services should reflect BOTH sides of our relationship with God. At the beginning of the service I think it is good that we express joy at being in God's house and in being with each other. In the same way I believe that as the service progresses, it is only fitting that we become more solemn, especially at the point the pastor preaches. Being either totally reverent or totally flighty in worship is wrong. A balance between being familiar and reverent needs to be struck.

Just a side note here. Too often when we think of worship in the Bible, we think of the worship in the temple. To be sure that is one style of worship; however, it was only one of 2. The other type of worship occurred in the synagogue. It tended to be informal than the one conducted in the temple. The church adopted the synagogue model (see 1 Cor. 14:26-33). Both were legitmate styles of worship in Jesus' day, and it is good when churches today strike a balance between the two. Write down some of the characteristics of the worship service in the early church according to 1 Cor. 14:26-33:

Hallowed Be Thy Name

God's Transcendance

God's holiness first refers to His transcendance. According to Isaiah 55:8-9 are our ways naturally God's ways? Are our thoughts naturally God's thoughts? According to Isaiah how much higher are God's thoughts than our thoughts?

In other words, God is not us. He is beyond us in every conceivable and inconceivable manner. Unless God had revealed Himself to us, especially through Jesus Christ, we would have never come to know Him.

God's Worth

This clause in the Lord's Prayer also refers to God's worth, His value. Two parables in Jesus' teachings apply to God's worth. In the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price what is more valuable--all that the man has or the pearl itself (Matthew 13:45-46)?

In the Parable of the Hidden Treasure in the Field and in the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price, what do the men do in order to gain the field and to gain the pearl (Matt. 13:44-46)?

What things/persons are most important in your life? (Circle the most important one). Time     Relationships     Money     Possessions     Freedom     Fame     Comfort     Sex     Any others that I have not listed: _____________________. An illustration of this principle is found in the episode between Jesus and the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-23). Had the rich young ruler kept all the commandments? Did he still have eternal life? What was the one thing that Jesus commanded him to do in order to obtain eternal life?

Does Christ command us all to give up all our money and give it to the poor?

What does He command us to do?

The truth is that God is valuable and demands that we treat Him this way. in the movie Out of Africa Karen Blixen demands from her lover Denys that he treat her as valuable. She knows she is valuable and refuses to be treated otherwise. How much truer is this of God. I believe we all come to a point in our relationship with God in which He makes us choose Him or something else. Abraham came to this point when God commanded him to sacrifice Isaac. When it was all said and done, did Abraham follow God because He was going to give him a son or because God Himself was worth following?