No one could teach us more about the subject of prayer than Jesus the very Son of God. Twice in the New Testament, both in Matthew 6:5-13 and Luke 11:1-4, Jesus shares with His disciples about this very important subject. For this writing today we will use Matthew 6:9 which says, “This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in Heaven …”
Before we get into the five powerful lessons about praying to God our Father, I want to begin by telling you five peculiarities about this prayer.
ONE: Even though Jesus said not to make vain repetitions in prayer … that is the very thing that some people do. Actually, it seems that there are two extremes. Some people believe that by simply repeating this prayer word for word over and over God will hear them. There are also those who reject this prayer and as a matter of fact all prayer. There are people today who say that deity is immutable, and that all things are controlled by unchangeable laws. The truth is however that prayer is confirmed by human experience all over the world. In every archaeological study known to man, in all ages, in all relations, in all degrees, and in every civilization there is evidence that mankind has always prayed. In circumstances of need it is quite natural to cry out for help from a higher power of justice. There is nothing more appropriate than prayer to God. It is the act of the created bowing before the creator. The finite appealing to the infinite. The subject doing homage before their king. The child addressing their Father.
TWO: The first thing Jesus stated in this model prayer … was to tell us to pray to God the universal Father. In that single utterance alone Jesus demolished Atheism: which is the belief that there is no god; Pantheism: which is the belief that god is just a part of the universe (ie; no personality); Polytheism: which is the belief that there are many gods, and Positivism: which is the belief in mind over matter.
THREE Jesus gave us the things that are necessary to pray about … God’s name, God’s kingdom, God’s will, our necessities, our spiritual needs, and our dangers. Jesus teaches us to praise God and to end our prayers with the word Amen. The word amen means, “so be it in my life.”
FOUR: Jesus gave this prayer from the inspired petitions of many Old Testament Saints. We must understand that Jesus, like God the Father … is eternal. From before the time of creation He has been sitting at right hand of God. It makes perfect sense that over the years of human history Jesus would have heard and experienced the prayers that men prayed that really moved the heart of His Father. When teaching His disciples how to pray, I believe Jesus shared the following prayers …
OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN … Isaiah 64:8, Ecclesiastes 5:2
HALLOWED BE THY NAME … Psalm 48:10
THY KINGDOM COME … Psalm 22:28
THY WILL BE DONE (as in heaven) … Proverbs 30:8, Psalm 103:20
GIVE US OUR DAILY BREAD … Proverbs 30:8
FORGIVE US OUR SINS … Exodus 34:9
AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO (sin against us) … Leviticus 19:18
LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION … Genesis 22:1
BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL … Psalm 50:15
FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM, AND THE POWER, AND THE GLORY FOREVER … 1 Chronicles 29:11)
Nobody but God and His son Jesus knew the Old Testament saints so well as to be able to put together such a divinely constructed model prayer.
FIVE: This was never intended to be the only thing we would ever pray. There is no record in the Gospels of this being the only prayer that one could pray. Jesus gave other prayer instructions too. This prayer is not mentioned in the book of Acts or any of the epistles. This prayer does not mention the blood of Jesus, or praying in His powerful name. This prayer is a model of how to pray, not just something to memorize and repeat many times over.
So, with that background … let’s consider five powerful lessons about praying to God our Heavenly Father.
LESSON NUMBER ONE: WE ARE TO PRAY TO GOD OUR FATHER.
In Matthew 6:9 Jesus states, “This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in Heaven …” We must understand that God wants us to relate to Him as a Father. But, we must also at this point address something here. There is a problem that can arise in trying to do this is if we compare God the Father … with the same weaknesses, failings and inconsistencies that we may have seen in our earthly fathers. The word “father” does not arouse the same feeling of warm and happy memories to every person in this life. Some have had earthly fathers that were harsh and unloving. For some learning to see God as their loving heavenly father is not such an easy thing. Well, we need to get past that. The fact remains that Jesus is stating the importance of starting our prayers with the awareness that God is our Father. And God is the best and most perfect father ever. We must also understand that there are bigger issues at stake here. Notice He did not tell us to pray, “Almighty creator of the universe, or Sovereign king of all things, I stand at direct attention! I am here for You to look me over and see if I am worthy.” The real truth is God could have required that. But God did not … He said, “Call me FATHER!” He wants us to see that He is our tender, teaching, providing, and protecting Father.
But that’s not all! Jesus said to pray, “OUR Father!” Listen carefully today, no person, no church, no denomination, or any other entity in this world, has a corner on God … God is “OUR” Father. Regardless of what particular name on the door of the church you attend or what you are looking for, God is “our Father.” By the way, we may as well get along now because we are going to spend eternity together. Notice that Jesus also said, “in Heaven.” He alone is not subject to any limitations, frailties, or shortages. He is residing now in our future eternal home He has prepared for us.
LESSON NUMBER TWO: SINCE GOD IS OUR FATHER, HE IS OUR PARENT.
A good parent will always love their children, no matter what. As I mentioned above, Jesus gave this prayer from the inspired petitions of some Old Testament saints. This word “Father” that Jesus chose to use here is taken from Isaiah 64:8. Let me tell you a little about Isaiah. Isaiah was a prophet of God during one of the darkest moments of the history of God’s people. Understand, it would have been awesome to have been a prophet during the time of Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, or Solomon, just to name a few. But when Solomon passed away, this awesome kingdom split apart. Israel began to lose all they that had gained. The northern Kingdom of ten tribes totally walked away from God. Eighteen kings came and went over a period of 220 years … all rejecting God. Finally they were annihilated and taken into captivity. Isaiah was a prophet of God during the time of the last five kings. But that’s not all, at the same time, Isaiah prophesied over the Southern Kingdom during the reign of four kings, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Two of them did right in God’s eyes, one about half-right, and one did not do right at all.
Listen to what Isaiah says in the first chapter of his writings. Isaiah 1:2-4 says, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: ’I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me; the ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, My people do not consider.” Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward.”
Isaiah preached repentance, but nobody listened. Let’s read a few words from Isaiah 6:8. God says, “Who shall I sent to call the people back?” Isaiah says, “Here am I, send me.” And then in essence God tells Isaiah to go but He warns him that nobody is going to listen. This goes on and on, and by the time we get to the sixty-fourth of sixty-six chapters of the book of Isaiah, he has cried and cried out to God for His help. Then in Isaiah 64:1 Isaiah says, Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence — Isaiah 64:6-8 says, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is no one who calls on Your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us, and have consumed us because of our iniquities.”
Thank God that Isaiah did not stop there! Isaiah went on in his desperate prayer and said, “But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.” You see Isaiah knew a great truth. A real and Heavenly Father is the originator of our existence. Since God is our Father we are His offspring. We are God’s children, and He will always be there for us.
LESSON NUMBER THREE: SINCE GOD IS OUR FATHER HE IS OUR PROVIDER.
The title of father is associated with being a provider. The Bible says in Acts 17:28, “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” God created this world as a dwelling place for His children. The Bible says in Psalms 147:8, “He covers the heavens with clouds, He prepares rain for the earth, He makes grass to grow on the mountains.” The Bible says in Psalms 104:14, “He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth food from the earth.” The Bible says in Job 12:10, “In His hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.” We need to understand that it is God’s providence that maintains the precise portions of the air that we breathe, and the water that we drink. He keeps the earth revolving in space.
Consider just a few little tid-bits of information about the heavens. The sun is 92,700,000 miles from the earth. To count to one million non-stop (1, 2, 3 …) would take a person three days and three nights. To count the miles to the sun would take three hundred days and nights. If you would cut the sun into a million pieces, each piece would be considerably larger than the earth. The sun sends light and energy in every direction. The earth receives a fraction of 2/billionths of the sun’s light and energy. And yet, in comparison to the rest of the universe, if the earth and the sun disappeared it would be no more significant than a falling star. Our Heavenly Father provided it all just for you and me!
LESSON NUMBER FOUR: SINCE GOD IS OUR FATHER HE IS OUR PROTECTOR
The title Father speaks of being a protector of his children. Think of the best human father in the world. The most loving, kindest, wisest, wealthiest, most powerful, and noble man. Then realize that comparing them to God would be like comparing shadow to substance. God protects us more than anything else through forgiveness. He sent His Son Jesus to the cross to die in our place for our sins. He then sent the power of His Holy Spirit to live inside of us. The Bible says in Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
Listen to this true story … During World War II, a US marine was separated from his unit on a Pacific island. Alone in the jungle, he could hear enemy soldiers coming in his direction. He found his way to several small caves & crawled inside one of the caves. He thought to himself that surely they will search all the caves and he would be killed, but … he prayed, “Lord, please protect me.” Then he saw a spider begin to build a web over the front of his cave. He even prayed again, “God, I need a brick wall, not a spider web.” To his amazement, the spider web quickly covered the entrance. When the enemy soldiers arrived in the area they did not search his cave. Due to the spider web it appeared as though no one had been there in a long time. God is our protector!
LESSON NUMBER FIVE: SINCE GOD IS OUR FATHER WE ARE HIS CHILDREN.
My greatest hope as a boy was always that I wanted to please my Dad. In 1959, on a vacation to Ponce de Leon, Missouri, we went down to a creek to swim. A lot of young boys were there jumping off a rock formation into the arms of a family friend. But not me, I was too afraid. I could not bring myself to jump. After a little bit however, my Dad stepped over. He said, “Here son, I am here, come on, jump.” Well, I jumped. And the reason why is because it was my father! Not only did I want to please him, but I knew that I would be safe with my father. (my apologies to the family friend)
There is something about being God’s children that we need to take into consideration. Even though God is our Heavenly Father, it’s a lot more effective to pray “Our Father in Heaven,” when you have a personal relationship with Him. While it is obvious that we all have on some level a relationship with our earthly father, there is something we all need to do to get acquainted with our Heavenly Father. The Bible says in John 3:3 that we need to be “born again.” Being born again is just what it seems to indicate, starting your life over. There are several verses from out of the Bible that help us to understand the process.
Romans 3:23 tells us that “we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Like the people during Isaiah’s life-time we have all failed to walk in full relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Romans 6:23 tells us that “the wages of this sin is death, but that the gift of God is eternal life.” Because of our sin we deserve the punishment of eternal separation from God. But because of God’s love for us, He sent His Son Jesus to take the judgment for our sins upon Him and to die in our place. Realizing that Jesus died on the cross for you and I, is the most life-changing information you and I will ever know.
Galatians 4:4 tells us that “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out,“Abba, Father!” We do this by asking God to forgive us of our sins, and accepting God’s Son Jesus into our heart.
The Bible says in Romans 8:15-17, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”
If you have never had this experience, please read the prayer written below several times and then pray this prayer to God from your heart.
Dear Father God, I confess that I am a guilty sinner, and that I need to be saved. I believe that Your Son Jesus died on the cross to pay my sin debt. Please forgive me of my sins, come into my heart, and save my soul. I want to have a new life through Jesus Christ. I turn my life over to you. Help me to live for You from this day forward. I pray to You in Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you have received Christ as your personal Savior, you now have access to the fullest possible relationship with your Heavenly Father. You are His child and you can enjoy all that your Father in Heaven has for you. Take full advantage of your personal relationship with your Heavenly Father every day by praying to Him. Ask your Heavenly Father for His kingdom, His will, your necessities, your spiritual needs, and His protection from danger. Jesus teaches us to praise God and to end our prayers by praying in Jesus’ name, and with the word Amen, “so be it in my life.”