Matthew 6:9-13 (ESV)Pray then like this:“Our Father in heaven,hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come,your will be done,on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts,as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation,but deliver us from evil.
Our church is in its annual Week of Prayer. On Sunday I preached through the Lord’s Prayer as we find it in Matthew 6:9-13 and here are a few thoughts that I shared with the people in our service on Sunday morning.
The title of the message was “The Disciples’ Prayer. Two things about that:
It is not the Lord’s Prayer in the sense that our Lord prayed it. This is not a prayer He would have ever prayed. At least not all of it. It is the disciples’ prayer because it is the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples to pray.
It is the Disciples’ Prayer, NOT the Disciple’s Prayer. The apostrophe makes all the difference in the world. And as a member of the Society for the Prevention of the Misuse of the Apostrophe I would like to encourage you to pay attention to such things so that you can communicate in an understandable manner. And if you reply by saying that no one knows or cares about such things anymore then allow me to say in response that this apostrophe misplaced can be the difference between a believer who obeys Jesus command to pray this prayer and one who doesn’t.
“Disciple’s prayer” tells us that this prayer is what each disciple prays. And while that is true, it is better to call it the Disciples’ prayer because then we see that it is the prayer that all God’s children pray and that they pray it in the company of other disciples. In other words, it is not a prayer that we pray in our prayer closets when we are alone, although it is certainly not wrong to do that. But it is more, vastly more, a prayer that we pray when we are in the company of other followers of Jesus. If we are not in prayer with other believers then we are in disobedience to Jesus instruction to “pray then like this”.
The opening words of this prayer are not mere decoration. OUR Father. We are including others in the petition. We approach God as a body. This is a prayer to be prayed in fellowship with other believers. It is not wrong to pray this by yourself, but it is wrong to only pray this by yourself and it is wrong to not pray its elements when we do pray it with others.
This prayer is not for everyone. It is for children. This prayer will get recited all over the world today, as we recite it, and many of those mouthing the words do not have God as their Father. This is for those who are children of God. And while many will utter a bit of truth when they say tat we are all God’s children, they utter more of a lie than the truth, for they say it with the assurance that they have had their sins forgiven and are bound for an eternity with Christ when in fact they are not. God is not their Father. This is the DISCIPLES’ prayer; the prayer of those who are disciples of Jesus Christ. Not those who show up for church on a Sunday morning. Not those who are members of churches. Not those who can rhyme of Bible verses and are busy in churches and give to needy causes and needy people. Not those who can testify that they don’t run around, and they are nice to their neighbours, honest at work, and have never killed anyone. NOT those who deny themselves the pleasures of life in the belief that this will make God forget their bad qualities. Not any of that – but rather Disciples.
This prayer is for those of whom it is true:
John 1:12 – But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.Romans 8:14-17 – For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.1 John 3:1-2 – See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we will be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
Calling God “Father” is an immense privilege. It took the death and resurrection of the eternal Son of God to give you the opportunity to approach God and address Him in this way – See Hebrews 4:16
Hebrews 4:14-16 – Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Does this mean that people who do not know Christ are not allowed to come to God and address Him as “Father”? It means that they cannot approach God at all. He will not hear them. The only reason we are heard is because Jesus Christ is our high priest sitting at the right hand of God living to intercede for us. There is only one Mediator between God and man, the man, Christ Jesus. No Mediator – no ability to approach God through that mediator.
The phrase “our Father” reminds us that God is near, and loving and a good provider and that we can come to Him and make our requests, not fearing getting hurt or cast aside. He loves to give good things to His children because they are His children (Matthew 7:11). He is a loving father, a good provider. See:
Matthew 7:7-11 – “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!