Bible Study 2021
The Lord's Prayer
Matthew 6:9-15, “In this manner, therefore, pray: 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 forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
“14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” There are two spiritual activities which are to be part of a believer’s life, two great pillars that hold up the believer in the matter of daily living. One is the study of the Word of God. Two is prayer.
Prayer is our speaking to God. Studying the Word is God speaking to us. Those two things are the composite interchange between man and God. And so the Bible tell us that we are to be involved in both, constantly, daily, feeding on the Word of God; constantly, daily responding in communion with God. The law of God, was to be a matter of thoughts and conversation all the time.
Now we’ve talked much about studying the Word of God. But for this time we’re focusing on prayer. Prayer, is one of those two constants in the believer’s life. George Mueller, a famous German evangelist, was asked how much time he spent in prayer. His replied, “I live in the spirit of prayer. I pray as I walk, when I lie down, and when I rise. The answers are always coming.” It was his way of life.
Our Lord knows that prayer should be a way of life. Our Lord here stops in the midst of His discourse on the Sermon on the Mount, which particularly compares the false standard of religion of the Pharisees and the scribes with the true standard of God, and He interjects a word of instruction to all of those who name His name, in order that they might know how they are to pray.
So we need to understand how to pray. In fact, this very same model prayer which he gives here is also given in Luke in response to the question, “Lord, teach us to pray.” And so our Lord teaches us to pray. Jesus doesn’t tell us about a specific time, a specific place or a specific posture. Prayer is an open communion with God that goes on at all times. So that is what Jesus teaches us here.
This is a model for all prayers. For many people, this prayer is simply something that they have recited, and in limiting it to that, you miss the whole point because it is infinitely more than that. The believer must learn how to pray in order to experience the fullness of communion with God, in order to open the flood gates of heaven, and to know the fullness of blessing from God.
And when we study God’s Word, we discover also the real condition of our own hearts, and our spiritual lives, and that drives us into a private, personal prayer, where we open up our hearts to God. Therefore, it is the study of the Word of God that gives birth to a meaningful prayer life. It isn’t how long your prayer is, it’s whether your prayer touches on the vital and necessary elements.
One way to look at this prayer it unfolds the relationship that we have with God, it says, “Our Father.” That means that we have a father-child relationship with God. It says, “Hallowed be thy name.” We have a worshiper relationship with God. It says, “Thy kingdom come.” We have a subject relationship with God. It says, “Thy will be done.” We have a servant relationship with God.
It says, “give us our daily bread.” We have a beneficiary relationship with God. It says, “forgive us our trespasses or our debts.” We have a savior-sinner relationship with God. It says, “lead us not into temptation.” We have a guide and a pilgrim relationship with God. We could study this prayer in just that way. Let me look at it another way. It defines the spirit in which we’re to pray.
What is to be our attitude as we pray? First of all, it says, “our.” That’s an unselfish spirit. Then it says, “Father,” that’s a family spirit. Then it says, “hallowed be thy name,” a reverent spirit. “Thy kingdom come,” a loyal spirit. “Thy will be done,” a submissive spirit. “Give us our daily bread,” a dependent spirit. “Forgive us our trespasses,” a penitent spirit. “Lead us not into temptation,” a humble spirit.
Now, we know that the major thrust of this prayer is that it focuses on the glory of God, and that is fitting because that is what all prayer is to do. Prayer is not trying to get God to agree with me. Prayer is not trying to line God up with what I need. Prayer is myself affirming the sovereignty and majesty of God, and taking my will and making it submissive to his. That’s true prayer.
Jonah was in the belly of a great fish, in fear and misery. There Jonah begins a prayer, and you would think that he would dispense with all of the amenities and just get down to, “Get me out of here, God.” But Jonah begins with a marvelous anthem of worship and praise, because no man can really ask God for something unless he affirms that God has the sovereign right to say yes or no.
In Daniel 9 he is on the precipice of disaster all the time because of the place that he stands in the midst of a pagan Babylonian society. In the midst of a terrible situation he utters his prayer, and the whole prayer opens up, almost ignoring the situation with an affirmation of the majesty, and the glory, and the dignity, and the holiness, and the almighty character of sovereign God.
In Jeremiah 32, Jeremiah spent most of his times weeping because of his broken heart over his people, but his prayer is nothing but a recitation of God’s majesty. Why does this prayer begin with, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” And why does it end “for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever”? Because God is the focus of all prayer.
Now look at the theme of the Lord’s Prayer. Every statement in this prayer focuses on God. “Our Father who art in heaven,” that is God our father. “Hallowed be thy name,” that is God’s priority. “Thy kingdom come,” that is God’s program. “Thy will be done,” that is God’s purpose. “Give us this day our daily bread,” that is God’s provision. “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” that is God’s pardon.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” that is God’s protection. “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, amen,” that is God’s preeminence. Every phase speaks of God. Prayer, then, is to put God in his infinite, majestic place. Let’s look at the first one: God’s role as our Father. “Our Father who art in heaven.” Prayer begins with a recognition that God is our Father.
God is our father. Now the word “our” refers to believing people. Liberals, for years, have taught the universal fatherhood of God. We’re all the children of God, and we’re all brothers. Well, that’s true just in the sense of creation. Jesus said in John 8:44 to the Jewish leaders, “You are of your father the devil.” In 1 John 3, John clearly characterizes two families: The children of God, and the children of the devil.
Paul makes a clear distinction between children of light and children of darkness. Jesus makes that clear. Peter says in 2 Peter 1:4 that only those who believe have been made “partakers of the divine nature.” Only those of us who have been born again have been born into the family of God. John 1:12 says, only “as many as received Him” had the right to be called “the children of God.”
But the positive side is, “Our Father” is an affirmation of an intimacy with God that is wondrous. Until Jesus came men did not understand the intimacy of God. That’s illustrated graphically when Philip says to Jesus, “Show us the Father,” and Jesus says, “Have you been so long with me, Philip, you don’t know if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the father?” Jesus explained the intimacy of that.
As time went on, at the time of Jesus, the Jews had lost the Father concept of God. God did not move, but they moved. They moved away from true religion, as they moved away from true worship, and they redefined their system to tolerate sinfulness, they cut themselves off from God’s fatherly care. They had lost the sense of God’s fatherhood, even in a national way that they had known it in the past.
In the concept of father, we see the nearness of God. In Psalm 68, He is a father to the fatherless. God as a Father also shows his loving grace. A father is forgiving, a father is tender-hearted, a father is merciful. And the fatherhood of God is shown in terms of his guidance. A father guides his children and gives them wisdom and instruction. And because God is our Father, we are required to obey Him.
Jesus reiterates this in Matthew 7:7-11, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?”
“11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” We again are introduced to the fact that God is a beneficent, caring, loving, sustaining Father, just as a father in the world takes care of the needs of his children. Jesus injects into it something rich, something special, something intimate.
When Jesus prayed He always used the word “Father;” for over 70 times, Abba was the familiar term. Abba was the endearing term used by a little child for its father. In Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6, the Bible says that we can cry, “Abba, Father.” What does it mean that God is our Father? Number one, it means the end of fear. You don’t have to fear anything else. He’s your almighty father through Christ.
Secondly, God as a Father gives us hope. You know, the world is hostile. There are laws in this world that when you break those laws, you do it at your own peril. You sin, and consequences come, and “the wages of sin is death.” No wonder Voltaire said that life is a bad joke. No wonder he said men are fools, drowning in a sea of mud. That’s because he didn’t have a loving Father.
Thirdly, it makes it so we are never alone. If God is a Father, then that’s something lonely people need to know about, right? The heart knows bitterness, the loss of self-worth, unworthiness and self-despair. We all suffer self-pity. We desperately need respect. Where are we going to get that? Is there anybody who knows us for what we are and loves us for that? God can. He is our Father.
Fourthly, “Our Father” eliminates selfishness. Jesus teaches us that prayer is something which isn’t selfish. It embraces the community of faith, always. In fact, there’s no singular personal pronoun in this entire prayer. Pray with your arms around everybody else. Ephesians 6:18 says, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication for all saints.” Pray for everybody.
Fifthly, God as a Father provides the necessary resources, because it says, “Our Father who art in heaven.” When you go to your father for resources you go because He has all of the supernatural domain at His disposal. All that heaven is, all that it means in Ephesians to be “blessed in heaven with all spiritual blessing” is available in Him. He is a loving Father who has all the resources of heaven.
If God is in heaven, then prayer needs to be a thing of the heart and not the lips, for no physical voice on earth can touch the skies. If we pray to God in heaven, then faith must wing our petitions. You want satisfaction? God has it at his disposal. If you want fairness? God has it in heaven. He has peace, fellowship, knowledge, victory and boldness, everything you need is all there.
Sixthly, God as a Father gives you obedience. It was so important that in the Old Testament, God said if you find a disobedient child stone him, because I want the world to know that you’re to obey your father. Because that’s a mirror picture of how you’re to respond to God your father. My children are to obey me, and I’m an unworthy father. We are to obey Him, because He is an infinitely worth father.
The whole point of the fatherhood of God comes down to the fact that we are to obey. Jesus obeyed the Father. He said, “I didn’t come to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me.” He said, “My mission is to do the Father’s will. Nevertheless not my will, but yours be done.” If He can assign himself a place of being subservient in perfection, certainly we can be subservient in our imperfection.
Finally, God our Father has unparalleled wisdom. If God is the Father, then he is infinitely wiser than we are. Our Father is infinitely wise, and we’re right back where we started, submissive to His will, because it is the best. So to begin a prayer, “Our Father which art in heaven,” is to indicate my eagerness to come as a beloved to a loving Father, to receive all that His love can possibly give me. Let’s pray that together.