We are studying the model prayer that Jesus gave for his disciples as he teaches them to pray in the Sermon on the Mount. The first declaration of the prayer that Jesus gives us is to understand that God is our Father. Understanding this should change everything about our desire to pray. Seeing God as our perfect Father who draws us into relationship with him so that we can be his children. We noted in the last lesson that there is a structure to this prayer. The first three requests are directed toward the glory and praise of God. The final three requests are directed toward the needs of the disciples. In today’s lesson we will look at these first three requests that are directed toward God and his glory.
Hallowed Be Your Name (6:9)
On the surface this may not sound like a prayer request but a statement. But this is not simply saying that God’s name is holy, as if we are recognizing that truth. Rather, we are praying that God’s name would be honored as holy by all creation. We can see this in some modern translations of this phrase.
- Your name be honored as holy. (Matthew 6:9 HCSB)
- May your name be kept holy. (Matthew 6:9 NLT)
- May your name be honored (Matthew 6:9 NET)
God’s name must be upheld as holy and we are praying that all people would do so. To honor his name as holy means we hold his nature, character, and personality in reverence. This is what worship is all about: revering his name. We are praying for and calling for the true worship of God. The scriptures give us a concept of this honor and reverence in many places.
Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! (Psalm 46:10 ESV)
But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him. (Habakkuk 2:20 ESV)
These concepts should impress upon us how we are addressing God as Father. While he is our Father, there is a respect and honor that he deserves. Some has suggested that “Abba, Father” means something like saying in prayer, “Dear daddy.” Many scholars have written that this is not true and is a strong overstatement of the meaning. Just because little children used the word “Abba” for daddy does not mean that was the only way the word was used. Older children and adults also used the word “Abba.” We must enjoy that God is our Father, enjoying all the blessings of this new relationship he has created for us. But at the same time we must never forget who we are and who God is. This is seen when Jesus says, “Our Father in heaven.” God is not on our level. He is in heaven. God is not on the same plane as us. His name must be upheld and honored as holy. We must hold God in reverence. Christ’s followers are asking their Father to act so that they and an increasing number of others will reverence God, glorify God, and consider him holy. This is the goal of life, that all people in all places would honor the name of the Lord!
Your Kingdom Come (6:10)
I have heard many arguments made that we cannot pray this prayer anymore because God’s kingdom did arrive and was established as we read in Acts 2. So is Jesus instructing his disciples to pray for something only for the next two or three years and then no longer pray this? I have a difficult time believing that Jesus is modeling a prayer that would be invalid two or three years later. Further, God in his sovereignty was going to establish his kingdom on the day of Pentecost whether anyone was ready to accept it or pray for it or not. While the kingdom was established in Acts 2, is that the sum total of what it meant for the arrival of the kingdom of God?
We have spent quite a bit of time studying the concepts of the arrival of God’s kingdom when we studied the book of Daniel this summer on Sunday and Wednesday nights. Think about how Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 describes the subjugation and destruction of wicked nations when the kingdom of God arrives. In Daniel 2 we see the stone, representing the kingdom of God, shattering the whole image in that dream which represented the world powers of the earth (Daniel 2:35, 44).
Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. (Daniel 2:35 ESV)
And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever. (Daniel 2:44 ESV)
The same occurs in the vision of the terrifying beasts in Daniel 7 (Daniel 7:17-18, 27).
These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever. (Daniel 7:17–18 ESV)
And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. (Daniel 7:27 ESV)
These are pictures of God’s kingdom. When God’s kingdom arrived on the day of Pentecost that was not the end but the beginning. Jesus is reigning on the throne and subjugating his enemies and the enemies of his people. The apostle Paul explain that Jesus will continue to rule until all the enemies are put under his feet, and the last enemy that he must destroy is death (1 Corinthians 15:25-26). Jesus is repeatedly pictured as the conquering king (Psalm 2:5-12; Revelation 19:11-21; 22:20). The prayer for God’s kingdom to come is not only the establishment of his kingdom, which occurred on the day of Pentecost, but the continued reign of God to destroy his enemies and subjugate the earth. Satan is called the prince of the power of air (Ephesians 2:2) and is seen using kingdoms and powers against the people of God (cf. Daniel 7; Revelation 12). But this is what Revelation 20 is picturing when Satan is cast into the lake of fire for his final judgment, along with all the peoples and nations that remained in rebellion to the Lord and did not repent.
Therefore, we are praying for the kingdom of God to come into the hearts of people so that they would obey and become citizens of his kingdom. We are praying for the kingdom of God to come into this world so that we would see the destruction of the wicked nations that oppose God. We are praying for the kingdom of God to come against Satan and cast him into the lake of fire. Jesus is reigning on the throne and we are praying for him to continue to judge the earth with his righteous judgments. Notice that we are praying for God’s will and purposes on earth to continue to be accomplished.
Your Will Be Done (6:10)
As you can gather at this point, this statement that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven is really three concepts to communicate the same point. We are praying that God’s name would be revered as holy and honored by all people. We are praying that God’s kingdom would come and destroy the enemies of his rule. We are praying that God’s will would be carried out and accomplished on this earth like it is carried out in heaven. Three facets of the same idea that God is carrying out his will.
The message we are learn regarding how we pray to God is that our prayers must be about God’s purposes. Our priorities are to be the promotion of God’s reputation, the advancement of God’s rule, and the performance of God’s will. It would be our burning desire to see the Father honored on earth like in heaven, as we read in Revelation 4.
But why is it important for our prayers to consist of focusing on God’s praise and God’s purposes? We must recognize that praying that God’s will to be done, that his name be honored as holy, and his kingdom continue to come in this world means we are committing ourselves to learning all we can about his will and by his grace doing his will. We are committing ourselves to glorifying God’s name through our good works (Matthew 5:16). Think about the hope and confidence this should give us in prayer. We are praying to our Father that we are trusting in him that his plans would be accomplished and his will would be done through all the chaos, evil, and suffering we see in the world. We are praying that we would be instruments to carry out his will on earth like it is carried out in heaven. We are praying that God would bring down the evildoers and destroy those who willfully rebel against him. We are recognizing the power of God’s kingdom and how we will enjoy reigning with him if we will remain faithful to him.