In our last lesson we examined the implications of Jesus teaching us to address God as “our Father.” It conjures a beautiful picture of an intimate relationship between a child and dad. Have a conversation with God. There are not code words that must be said. We do not talk to him to be seen by others. We do not need flowery words or to be formal in our language. Just talk to God, like talking to your dad, having a discussion about our requests and desires, aligning our will to God’s will. We will now continue our study of Jesus’ teaching on prayer.
9 “Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:9-13; HCSB)
After drawing us in with the closeness of calling God our Father, we are reminded of God’s sovereign rule over all things. Our father is the one who is in charge. He can do anything. It is a wonderful feeling as a father to have kids when they are young who think you can do anything. Dad can fix everything. Dad can do anything. Dad is not scared of anything. But we have a true Father in heaven that really can do anything and really can fix everything. We have the Almighty, all-powerful God as our Father who we are to talk to and make our requests to.
The phrase “in heaven” also reminds us that we are not home. We are looking forward to going home and having a reunion with the Father.
Your Name Be Honored As Holy
The long standing translation is “hallowed be your name.” But I don’t think many understand what that means. I am not sure why even modern translation continue to use this archaic phrase when it can be stated in a much clearer way. The HCSB does very well here with: “your name be honored as holy.” This means that we hold God in reverence, to honor, glorify, and exalt him. There is a reverence and respect that must be maintained with our Father. This obviously goes further than just not using God’s name flippantly. Our lives keep God’s name holy. What we do is a reflection upon the name of God. A child always reflects upon the parent, whether to the good or to the bad. We are child and God is our Father. We either present our Father in a favorable light or in negative light. I remember my father sitting me down and explaining to me that my actions reflect upon our family, upon our name, upon the church, and upon God. I remembered that and did not want to do something that would tarnish the reputation of my father. Many people in the name of God have done things that tarnish the reputation of God. We cannot be those kind of people. We cannot let our words and actions tarnish God. People have turned away from God, rejected God, and fallen away from God because they did not hold God as holy. They acted like fleshly, worldly people and not like Christ. God is your Father. Do not disrespect him by tarnishing the name and ruining his reputation.
This is a life changing part of our prayer. If we are going to honor God as holy there becomes a responsibility on our part.
But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16; NLT)
As children, we learn from the Father and do his will. In fact, we have a saying that a child is “a chip off of the old block.” We mean that the child’s character is similar to the character of the father. For the Father’s name to be honored as holy demands that we be holy. We must be separated from the sinfulness of the world. We are attempting to keep ourselves away from the things in the world that are evil and that defile us.
Your Kingdom Come
This phrase has been taken in a couple of different ways, both of which I believe to be wrong. Rather than tell you want it is not, let us just talk about what this is. While John the Baptist was on the earth, he was preaching that the kingdom of heaven was near. Jesus preaching the same message that the kingdom of God was near. I believe this model prayer certainly has the historical aspect that the kingdom of God was about to come and did arrive on the day of Pentecost, as we read in Acts 2. But there was far more to the prophecies concerning the arrival of God’s kingdom. Daniel 2 describes the kingdom shattering the world powers that opposed God’s kingdom. Daniel further described the kingdom filling the whole earth. The apostle Paul described the kingdom as an olive tree that has branches being grafted into it. Jesus also described the kingdom as a vine and only those who abided in the vine would be fruitful and not destroyed by fire. My point that I want us to consider is that the scriptures do not describe the work of the kingdom being completed at Pentecost. The kingdom arrived and now it would spread throughout the whole earth. Your kingdom come does not have to strictly refer to the miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts. It must include it, however. But God’s work was not completed with the arrival of the kingdom. The kingdom would now go forth and conquer, subjecting the opposition (as Revelation 19 envisions) and conquering the hearts of humanity. As long as there is opposition to God, then the work of God and the kingdom continues as God subjects all things under the feet of Christ.
This is an evangelistic part of our prayer. This reflects our love for the souls of others. We want God’s kingdom to come and rule in their hearts so that they can be saved from eternal punishment. Are we praying for the soul of our neighbor? Are we praying for the soul of our co-worker? Are we praying for the souls of our friends? How evangelistic are our prayers? Notice that we have not encountered any “I want” and “I need” parts to Jesus’ teaching on prayer. Our prayers begin by being focused away from ourselves. We have a saying of sorts that our problems do not seem as great when we are focused on the problems of others. Life is far better when we are focused on the souls of others. We will be more caring and more compassionate when we are deeply moved and concerned by the souls of others. We are better able to align our lives to God’s thinking when we see the spiritual soul in every human.
Your Will Be Done
This is the first of a number of incidents of Jesus’ prayer life that we see him praying for the will of the Father be done. This is the will of the obedient child. We want to be pleasing to God and not be found in opposition to his will. As we mentioned last week, prayer is not about getting our way. Prayer is about aligning our will and desires to God’s purposes. I do not know if we realize how difficult this part of Jesus’ prayer really is. We may not realize that when we ask for God’s will to be done it means that things are not going to go our way. Things are not going to go the way we want them to go. That is what it means when we ask for God’s will to be done. Many times I don’t think we mean this when we say these words. We frequently mean that we want God’s will to be done because we want things done our way and we want God to do what we want. But this is not desiring God’s will to be done. It is desiring our will to be done and hoping that God is on board with what we want done. But we have missed it when that is the underlying purpose in our prayers.
Further, “your will be done” is not a statement as an innocent by-standard in the whole matter. Jesus worked in such a way that the Father’s will would be done. Jesus was not praying for the Father’s will to be done and then went off to live his life how ever he wanted. To ask for God’s will to be done not only teaches us to ask for God’s purposes to be accomplished, but it means that I will be a useful tool to get the Father’s will done.
Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8; NLT)
When the Lord was asking for who would be the one to go on behalf of the Lord to be a messenger, Isaiah did not pray that someone else would do it. “Your will be done” means that I will see myself as a tool to accomplish God’s will. When God decided to create humans there was a need for Savior to deliver us from our sins. The Word volunteered to become flesh and live among us. The Word acted to bring about our deliverance. When Jesus said in the Gethsemane, “Your will be done,” he was going to the cross! He was not looking for someone else to accomplish the task. He was raising his hand and saying, “Here I am; send me.”
The point is that it is impossible to pray these words in sincerity without humbly committing ourselves to God’s will being done. We cannot pray for God to fix the world and be a light to the nations if we are not willing for God to fix our lives so that we can be that light. So we need ask ourselves so questions. What are we doing to help the kingdom of God come into the hearts of people? What are we doing to help God’s will be accomplished?
Going Deeper In Prayer
So let’s add today’s information to what we have learned so far. We examined last week that prayer is not for a show and it is not be formal with particular words. Just converse with God like he is your Father.
1. Remember that our Father is holy. That is not a bad thing, but a good thing. He is different. He is not like other people you know. God loves you and he will never stop loving you. Talk to him about your life. God is different and he wants good for you. The world is not like that, but God is. Your Father wants what is in your best interests.
2. In prayer, begin to align your will to God’s will. It is not my will, but God’s will. It is God’s kingdom that is of the utmost importance, not me. Prayer is to help us center our minds and lives on God’s will. As I talk with my Father, I need to make sure I am spiritually centered. James reminds us of this problem:
And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. (James 4:3; NLT)
Prayer life will be better and more fulfilling when our prayers are not a selfish “I want” list.