Matthew 6: 9-13. “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our FATHER, which art in heaven, Hallowed by Thy Name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”
This beautiful, simple yet incredibly deep prayer is the pattern Jesus gave His disciples to help them to know how to address the Father. He said, “After this manner,” which means “following this pattern,” or “similar to what I’m about to say.” There is nothing wrong with reciting this beautiful prayer. The harm is when people believe that there is some mystical power attached to it, and that all we need to do is mouth the words and our prayers will be answered.
When we do that, it can become vain repetition, meaningless, nothing more than rote “prayer,” which is no prayer at all.
Today I want to start excavating the depths of this pattern prayer that Jesus taught. There is so much in it that it will probably take several posts to work our way through it.
The first two words alone are rich, exciting, and challenging. “Our Father”! The first thing that comes to mind, of course is relationship. We are privileged to address the God of Heaven in this intimate way only if we are indeed His children. What does that mean?
To be a child of God is to believe Who He is; it is to agree with Him that we are sinful and in need of a Savior; it is to confess our sin to Him, seek His forgiveness, and accept Him as the only One Who can provide salvation. That salvation comes through His Son, Jesus Christ, through Whom the final atonement was made on the cross. A child of God is blood-bought, redeemed, put back into right standing; is joint-heir with Jesus to all that heaven holds; reconciled to a holy, sinless, pure beyond our understanding, loving, righteous, and gracious God Who could not look on His own Son as He bore the sin of the whole world in His own body on the tree. We are raised to eternity in heaven with Him through the resurrection of Jesus; we have the sure hope of eternity because He lives!
All that is implied and embodied in the first two words of this prayer.
I thought you might like to listen to the music. I’m not promoting Bocelli, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I don’t know if they know the Lord. But as I listened to this, I couldn’t help but think that if human voices, perhaps some who don’t truly know God, can sing this beautifully, then what will it be like in heaven!