The Lord’s Prayer: A Practical Guide (Part 1)

Praying Through the Bible #124

TEXT: Matthew 6:9-13

We just wrapped up a mini-series titled 10 Prayer Principles of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those 10 principles which have led us and prepared us for the beginning of this mini-series are as follows:

1. Prayer should be a regular, everyday activity.
2. Prayer ought not to be done for the purpose of being seen by others.
3. Those who pray in a hypocritical manner — that is to be seen by men — will get their reward: they will be heard by men, and receive their praise from men, but they will not have their prayers answered by God.
4. Most prayer ought to be carried out faithfully in private before God alone.
5. Those who pray in secret before God will be heard by God and rewarded openly.
6. We should not use vain repetition in our prayers.
7. We ought to acknowledge God’s sovereignty and omniscience in our prayers.
8. We ought to follow the Lord’s Prayer as a model in our prayer life.
9. Our prayers do not have to be long in order to be effective.
10. Our prayers ought to encompass the six essential parts contained in the Lord’s Prayer.

In our last message, we talked about these six essential parts. Those parts are as follows:

1. We praise and recognize God.
2. We put God’s will before ours.
3. We ask for our daily needs.
4. We confess our sins and ask for forgiveness of sin.
5. We ask God to deliver us from temptation and evil.
6. We praise and recognize God’s glory once again.

In this message, we are going to look at the first part of this prayer in order that we might learn to pray better and be more effective in our prayer life.

In our prayers, we ought to praise and recognize God. Jesus says, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” When we acknowledge God as our Father, we are acknowledging Him as our “nourisher, protector, upholder.” That is what the Greek word for Father used here means – “nourisher, protector, upholder”.

Jesus draws us to notice what one writer called “the God-centeredness of prayer and indeed of all of life.” Many of us struggle with selfishness. It is easy to think that prayer is all about what God can do for us and what we can get from God. But prayer is an act of humility to God and a demonstration of childlike trust in God. Just as a young child depends on his parents for the supply of his every need, we ought to depend on God for the supply of our every need. J.I. Packer said, “If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. ‘Father’ is the Christian name for God.”

When we acknowledge God as our Father in our prayers, we are not only admitting that He is the One whom we are looking to for the answer of our prayers, but we are making the decision to put the things that concern God first. In our prayers, we ought to put His will and His purposes before any of our own temporal concerns. His name is hallowed — set apart, holy, and sanctified — above us and above everything and everyone else in the universe. No one is more important than He is. That is what it means to acknowledge God as our Father in Heaven whose name is holy.

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

But, even as we recognize God’s holiness in our prayers, this does not mean He is distant or removed from us. He is still “our Father who art in Heaven.” Just as a Father is eager and willing to provide for the needs and desires of his children, God is eager and willing to provide for our needs and desires as well. It is simply His nature as a Father. Ray Stedman said, “Someone has pointed out that this word father answers all the philosophical questions about the nature of God. A father is a person, therefore God is not a blind force behind the inscrutable machinery of the universe. A father is able to hear, and God is not simply an impersonal being, aloof from all our troubles and our problems. And above all, a father is predisposed by his love and relationship to give a careful, attentive ear to what his child says. This is the way God is. From a father, a child can surely expect a reply. God is interested in what we have to say. A father, therefore, may be expected to reply to us.”

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

What is our responsibility to our Father in Heaven? Our responsibility is to hallow or sanctify His name in every part of our life. It is not enough to acknowledge Him as holy with our mouths if we do not acknowledge Him as holy with our lives. Part of acknowledging Him as holy with our lives is obeying His commands and representing Him in a worthy manner on the Earth.

One of the reasons why our prayers are ineffective is because we go into prayer with unconfessed sin in our lives, and we expect God to still bless us. But if God is truly our Father, then just as an earthly father will not reward bad behavior in his children, likewise our Heavenly Father cannot and will not bless us if we are disobedient. We hallow God’s name not only by verbal affirmation, but by obeying the biblical command, “Be ye holy for I am holy.”

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

So, there is a two-pronged application to our praise, worship, and acknowledgement of God in our prayers. First, we acknowledge Him for who He is as our Father. When we acknowledge Him as Father, we are saying that we are totally dependent on Him for our needs and that we are trusting in Him to supply our needs. In addition to that, we acknowledge Him as a holy God who will not overlook evil conduct and who demands that we live holy lives as His children. If we live holy lives, we can be confident in prayer, knowing that our Heavenly Father is pleased with us and truly wants to hear and answer our prayers.

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

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