I remember the first time I held one of those silver discs in my hand. It was called a “CD.” On it was digitally encoded the music of Robert Palmer. The year was 1985, and I had just purchased my first Compact Disc Player. I recall how fascinated I was that such a little thing could hold so much information. But the world of information would soon say, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”
We live in the dawn of the “information highway.” With fiber optics — those little strands the size of a human hair that can carry millions of bits of information — cellular technology, and cable, we have the ability to communicate with astounding speed and to great distances. That CD I held in my hand in 1985 can now be encoded for the computer CDRom drive, enabling even the novice to access thousands of pages of information at the touch of a button!
However amazing these technologies are, they do not begin to compare to the incomprehensible privilege of prayer. Think about it; the ability to directly communicate with God!
Herbert Lockyer said of prayer that “the prescribed way to pray is in the Spirit through the Son and to the Father.” He goes on to say “praying in the Divine Name means pleading the merit, power, and work the Name represents.”
Then there are the words of R.A. Torrey:
To pray in the Name of Jesus Christ is to recognize that we have no claims on God whatever, that God owes us nothing whatever, that we deserve nothing of God; but, believing that God Himself tells us about Jesus Christ’s claim upon Him, we ask God for things on the ground of Jesus Christ’s claim upon God.
Prayer is not reserved for merely the hard times, or just for crisis. Isn’t it amazing how we pray in an “emergency?” I couldn’t help but smile when I walked into our Young Adults Fellowship class a couple of weeks ago. On the board was this question: Is God your steering wheel or your spare tire? It seems that most of us wait until there is a “flat” to call on God.
Last year I mustered up enough courage to get on a motorcycle for the very first time. After a “crash-course,” I felt confident enough to operate the monster. So off I went. Out of the drive, into the street, off of the street, over a hill, in the air, and into a tree! You can bet that I was praying while in the air! But we need to learn to make prayer a way of life, an on-going discipline.
The disciples never asked Christ, “teach us how top reach,” or “teach us how to lead,” but they did ask, “teach us how to pray.” Yet before Christ taught the disciples how to pray, He first told them how not to pray. Consider verses five through eight of Matthew chapter six: “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full…And do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them” (Matthew 6:5-8).
It would benefit many believers to re-apply this verse to their lives.
It would be beneficial to consider a little background information. First, it should be noted that it is inappropriate to refer to this passage as the “Lord’s Prayer,” for He could not with integrity ask, “forgive me my sins.” It would better be titled the “Model Prayer,” or the “Disciples Prayer.” It doesn’t teach us what to pray, but how to pray. It has been compared with the Jewish Rabbi’s “Index” prayers. Each phrase is a point of an “outline” and should be elaborated.
The prayer clearly consists of invocation (Matthew 6:9), petition (Matthew 6:10-13), and a doxology based on 1 Chronicles 29:11-13 (Matthew 6:13). Perhaps the most enlightening revelation in this prayer is its description of God the Father. This look at the Father reveals to us a gold mine; a wealth of information about the prospect of prayer. What a beautiful surprise that we should learn so much about the act of prayer by looking at the object of prayer!
With these thoughts in mind, let us proceed with our exposition of the model prayer, in which is revealed a sevenfold portrait of the Father.
Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13)
In verse nine we see the Father’s Person. We serve a “personal” God. This verse gives us at least three hints about the Person of God. One, is his Relationship; that is, “our Father.” The Old Testament refers to God as Father only seven times, and each time from “corporate” Israel. The New Testament, however, makes at least 275 allusions to God as “Father.” This is important, for in the ancient Near East names meant something. Christ probably taught in Aramaic, and the Aramaic word for father is Abba, which is similar to our “Daddy.” When we think of the connotation of the word “daddy” we can understand just what kind of relationship we have with God.
In Beethoven’s 2nd, a movie about a family which finds itself with a St. Bernard dog and four puppies, the youngest daughter offers up a prayer to God. “Dear God,” she says, “I know you are busy, but could you make it so these puppies stay puppies forever?” Only a child would request such a thing. Is it because a child’s faith in the Father is greater than the faith of adults? Oh, if all of us would have such faith in our heavenly Father!
Next we see His Residence: that is, “in heaven.” Our Father resides on His throne in Glory! From that perspective, we can be assured that He is sovereign, and that our lives can trustfully rest in His care. Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Prayer is the contemplation of facts from the highest point of view.” We also know that the Son sits at His right hand interceding for the saints.
We also see His Righteousness; that is, He is “hallowed.” Haddon Robinson tells of a clock in Denmark that is remarkably accurate. It loses only a fraction of a second every several hundred years. This mighty edifice of human ingenuity is patterned after the “clock of the universe.” God has so designed the planets and the stars that they stay in perfect harmony with each other. Only God could design such a perfect “time piece.” Only God can be “hallowed.” The idea is not “may your name become holy” but rather, “may your name be treated as holy.”
Our second glance at the Father is in Matthew 6:10, where we see The Father’s Plan. “Your kingdom come.” I believe that we can view the kingdom in two different ways. One way is The Present Kingdom. God has established His Kingdom through the Church, and we ought to pray for the expansion of that Kingdom. Another way of viewing the kingdom is The Pending Kingdom. The Apostle Paul related the fact that there is a crown of righteousness reserved for those who “love his appearing.” Do you look forward to His Advent?
The third consideration for our portrait of the Father in the Model Prayer is found in Matthew 6:10. It is The Father’s Program. Our petition is for His will “to be done on earth as it is in heaven.” What I love about this phrase is that it reveals that God’s will is done in heaven and that it can be done on earth. The key is “submission.” God’s will is done when we surrender our will to His.
E. M. Bounds relates that “answered prayer means that we have prayed rightly.” In other words, part of learning to pray is to test our requests to see if they are in conformity to God’s will in our lives. May we be able to say with Jean Ingelow, “I have lived to thank God that all my prayers have not been answered.”
One of the most comforting expressions of God is The Father’s Provision. In Matthew 6:11 we are instructed to ask God to “give us this day our daily bread.” This word “daily” is used only here in the New Testament. It is not used in classical Greek. Recently a papyrus was found of an ancient shopping list. In the list was this word “daily,” which, in its context, meant “enough for today.” God has never promised everything we want. Prosperity theology is a myth. God has promised to meet our needs, one day at a time.
Our fifth look at the Father beautifully reveals The Father’s Pardon. “Forgive us our sins,” we are taught to ask, “as we forgive those who sin against us.” I am so glad that there is forgiveness through the Person of Christ!
We live in a guilt-laden society. Psychologists must deal with this disease daily. The beauty of it all is that if we are told to ask forgiveness, then we will receive forgiveness. We must understand that God does not forgive us because we forgive others, but as we forgive others.
I was quite shocked when I read of a woman who went to a prison to offer forgiveness to the man who murdered her son! What a beautiful fulfillment of this petition! We can forgive because we have been forgiven! Luther referred to this as the “terrible pardon.” Since God forgives sins, and we can forgive others, we must learn to forgive ourselves! In this petition God desires that we have peace. “Prayer,” says R.A. Torrey, “is the key that unlocks all the store houses of God’s infinite grace.”
The sixth view in our portrait of the Father is The Father’s Protection. God protects us in at least two ways. First, he directs us. In this prayer, we are instructed to ask God where not to lead us: into temptation. That is not to say that God will never allow us to be tested. Trials and sufferings are often the believer’s benefit and joy. But the Father will never lead us into temptation, although often, when we fail to yield to Him, we find ourselves there from our own doing!
Whenever I read this phrase, “lead us not…,” I am reminded of the Psalms 23. There we are told where God does lead us: “beside the still water.” It is not God’s desire that we strive with temptation, but that we find peace and contentment in His care.
Another way God protects us is through Deliverance. This is in direct connection to the first protection. To lead us away from temptation is to deliver us from the evil one. Jesus Christ is Himself the source of this deliverance. “Greater is He that is in you,” says the Scriptures, “than he that is in the world.” A little God-given common sense doesn’t hurt in this department, either! James tells us to “resist the devil and he will flee from you!”
The doxology offers our seventh and final look at the Father. In this closing segment, we clearly see the Father’s Preeminence. God’s preeminence is manifested in three ways. One, we see His Dominion. The Kingdom is His! As we go about the Father’s business, do we keep in mind that it is His Kingdom? Do we behave as if it were ours? We must do the works of the Lord for the Lord, and never forget that though we plant the seed and water the ground, it is He who brings the increase!
The Father’s preeminence is also manifested in His Dominance. Not only is the Kingdom His, but the power is His! He shares this power with the Godhead; the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sustainer. As Paul wrote to the beloved Philippians, “I can do all things through Christ who is my strength.”
Not only is the preeminence of the Father revealed through His dominion and His dominance but also through His Distinction. The Kingdom is His, the power is His, and the glory is His!
There is no doubt that there is a great void in the Church when it comes to prayer. I must confess that of all my spiritual duties and disciplines, prayer is the most difficult. So how can we utilize the model Christ laid out? I believe that there are at least five ways to apply this prayer to our immediate lives:
1) We begin by realizing our sinfulness, thus necessitating a consistent prayer life.
2) Recognize His holiness, resulting in the desire to exalt Him in praise and worship.
3) Focus on quality, not quantity.
4) Practice prayer.
5) Make use of the threefold procedure Christ laid out in the following chapter:
Ask, and receive; Seek, and find; Knock, and it shall be opened.
Let us never forget the things learned of the Father in this model prayer for His disciples. The more we know of God, the more we trust in the power of prayer.

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