MEDITATIONS ON THE LORD’S PRAYER
#1 “In this manner”
September 7, 2011
“In this manner, therefore pray” Matthew 6:9
In these marvelous words, Jesus introduced something new--something that would change forever the way God’s people considered their relationship with Him. This prayer is sometimes called the Lord’s Prayer, or the Disciple’s Prayer, or the Perfect Prayer, while actually it is none of these. It is more a pattern than a prayer—a pattern as to how we should pray.
It is common among many professing Christians to repeat these words, and, in so doing, feel they have satisfied their need for prayer. I was raised in a church where “The Lord’s Prayer” was dutifully repeated in parrot-like fashion in every service. Sometimes, the pastor would say it for us in a machine-gun-fashion: it sounded like he wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible.
In considering this “prayer,” we must first take note that Jesus taught it to His disciples, not to the general populous, as in the Sermon on the Mount. “It is a prayer adapted only to those who are the possessors of grace, and are truly converted” C.H. Spurgeon. When Jesus spoke to the ungodly, He said, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do” (John 8:44). Here, Jesus said, “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven.”
“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence? says the LORD of hosts” Malachi 1:6.”
There is no honor in one who says, “Our Father” on Sunday mornings, then uses His name as a curse for the rest of the week. An unbeliever can call God many things, such as Creator and Judge, but never can he rightfully call Him “Father.”
When Jesus spoke of God as “Our Father,” it must have stirred something special in the hearts of His disciples. Until then, even God referred to Himself as “the Father” Malachi 1:6. The gospel changed the relationship of God with His people from that of a Father to a nation, to a personal one, whereby we can now call on Him as “Abba, Father.”
Yet another amazing revelation is that Jesus referred to God as “Our Father.” While He had a special relationship with God as the “only begotten Son” (John 3:16), He now embraces His disciples as brothers, and He becomes known as the “first begotten” Revelation 1:5. Every born-again Christian has been adopted into God’s family, therefore we can call Him “Father.”
“As God prescribed Moses a pattern of the tabernacle (Exodus 25:9), so Christ has here prescribed a pattern of prayer” Thomas Watson, 1620-1686. Jesus did not say, “In these words, therefore, pray” but “In this manner, therefore, pray.” Our prayers and petitions should be consistent with the pattern presented by Jesus—all the way from acknowledging Him as to who He is, to crying out for forgiveness for our constant weaknesses and failures.
This prayer pattern includes six petitions: the first three relate to the glory of God, and the remaining three to that which relates to our salvation.
Once we recognize the amazing reality that we are sons of God, and own the joy and privilege of calling Him “Father,” we must acknowledge His greatness, and His attributes, and honor His name, for that is the meaning of ‘hallowed’; ‘hagiazo’ to make holy, i.e. (ceremonially) purify or consecrate; (mentally) to venerate. This word is used 29 times in the New Testament, and in all but three occasions is translated “sanctify.”
“Inasmuch as there is none like You, O LORD (You are great, and Your name is great in might” Jeremiah 10:6.
The words of Jesus assume that God’s children pray. He said, “When you pray (Matthew 6:5), not “if you pray.” Prayer is not automatically an easy practice for many Christians, that is why it is so easy to rely on the repetition of written prayers. When a child of God enters into prayer, the devil goes to work: he has distraction down to an art—the phone rings, UPS delivers a package, children need your attention, and, his greatest distraction of all - wandering thoughts.
The advice of Jesus concerning prayer contains three things:
1) Go into a private room
2) Do not use vain repetitions
3) In this manner, pray.
The promise of Jesus is: “Your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” In these words we can be assured that our Father hears us and answers accordingly. The fact He will do it “openly” is secondary to the reality that He hears and answers, and is in comparison to the hypocrites who love to be seen praying, and whose reward is the admiration of those who see them.
“It was not the intention of the Son of God, (as we have already said), to prescribe the words which we must use, so as not to leave us at liberty to depart from the form which he has dictated. His intention rather was, to guide and restrain our wishes, that they might not go beyond those limits and hence we infer, that the rule which he has given us for praying aright relates not to the words, but to the things themselves” John Calvin, 1509 – 1564.