9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:9–13 ESV)
Perhaps with the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), the Lord’s Prayer is one of the most recited and remembered portions of Scripture. Wall hangings in many homes display it, children memorize it, and gifted singers regale audiences when they sing it. For the next several days, our attention is occupied with studying and understanding it.
However, rightly understood this familiar text is not so much the Lord’s Prayer as it is the prayer of the Lord’s disciples. Additionally, it is not to be unconsciously repeated. Rather, it is to be a guide for prayer. Jesus instructed His disciples about the proper order and contents of biblical prayer. “Christ does not enjoin His people to pray in a prepared form of words, but only points out what ought to be the object of all our wishes and prayers,” explains John Calvin.
The prayer consists of six petitions. The first three focus on the glory of God. The remaining three pertain to our relationship with the One, True, and Glorious God. Its structure is similar to the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17).
However, the phrase considered today is not a petition. It is not a request. Rather, it is an address to the Lord who is the object of the believer’s prayer.
One time during lunch, an elderly professor once asked a student of theology whether God was either transcendent or intimate in relationship with His creation. After several silent moments, the student responded that the Bible taught that God was both; transcendent and intimate. The professor responded in wholehearted agreement. Today’s text affirms that conclusion.
Our Father. The phrase (ἐγώ πατήρ; ego pater) can be addressed solely by sinners who God has justified by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. This statement reflects the intimate relationship we have with God. It is solely within this covenant relationship that any believer in Christ can call God their heavenly Father (Romans 8:12-15; Gal. 4:1-5). The Bible does not teach the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man.
In Heaven. Here is the counterweight. Our Father is sovereign and rules heaven and earth. All things are subject to His dominion; including ourselves. Therefore, He alone is worthy of our worship and ultimate obedience.
“This prayer, which is repeated by many Christians, contains elements that are important for all praying. Prayer is to begin with worship. God is addressed as Our Father in heaven. Worship is the essence of all prayer. In Matt. 6:1–18, Jesus used the word “Father” 10 times! Only those who have true inner righteousness can address God in that way in worship,” explains Louis A. Barbieri.
“When we engage in prayer, there are two things to be considered; both that we may have access to God and that we may rely on Him with full and unshaken confidence. He (God) has both a fatherly love toward us but also boundless power,” states Calvin.
Therefore, let us never doubt the Lord’s love for us, His children. He not only listens to our prayers, but is also powerful to answer them. Have a blessed day in prayer to Our Father, in Heaven.
Soli deo Gloria!