The Lord’s Prayer Part 1

Sermon Overview
 
Prayer is, in Jesus’s view, a way of life for the Christian, which is why he begins his teaching on prayer in the Sermon on the Mount with the words, “And when you pray….” For our Savior, prayer is assumed. And yet we must admit that prayer is a challenge, at least as we often think of it. Every Christian knows prayer is important and that our daily lives should be marked by more prayer, not less. Admitting that much is good for us. It gives us something to begin praying about: “Father, I know you’ve made me for fellowship with you in prayer, and I would like more of that. Please help me to be more faithful in prayer.” 
 
How would he begin to answer that request? Perhaps by drawing your attention to the Lord’s Prayer, as we know it, in Matthew 6:9-13, and Jesus’s broader teaching about prayer. Jesus tells us not to pray (and for that matter, not to do any spiritual activity) from the motive of impressing others. Our most faithful and rewarding prayers must be our secret prayers (Matt. 6:5-6. Nor do we pray to impress God, like those who pile up empty phrases (Matt. 6:7-8)! One of the freedoms Christians enjoy is the freedom from trying to make God want to answer our prayers. He knows what we need before we ask, yet he still loves to hear us ask, and he gives as he sees fit. Over the course of life, those who pray faithfully and often will be able to note answers to prayer, even “no” answers, which are good for us to note.
 
When we pray, we pray to the God who names himself. We don’t decide what to call God. Jesus says, pray “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” God’s name is the summation of who he is and what he has done/does/will do. We could call God, “Almighty,” “Judge,” “Lord,” “Healer,” “Creator,” and “King,” among other biblical names, but Jesus draws us to the beauty of prayer by noting that God is Father to the one who believes. And while he is Father, he is not like any other father. He is in heaven. He is close enough to be Father but distant enough for us to stand in awe of Him. Remember, throughout Scripture those who encounter God personally experience a rush of holy fear (see Isaiah 6:1-8, for example).  So God is Father in heaven, and his name is holy. Holiness is hard to understand because we’re all sinful. We come short of holiness (Romans 3:23). But God’s name – his whole person as he has revealed himself – is not a throwaway name. It’s not a name to be used lightly. It’s a holy name. It’s the holy name.And it appears to be especially holy when we live like God’s holiness matters in our lives (1 Peter 1:16).
 
For Discussion
 
Read Luke 11:1
 
1. Does knowing that the disciples had to ask for help with their prayer life encourage you or surprise you?
 
Read Matthew 6:5-8
 
2. Are we tempted to do religious or spiritual things to impress other people? Do we ever think we need to impress God in order to get his blessing?
 
3. When Jesus says “Your Father who sees in secret will reward you,” what kind of reward might he have in mind? Is it always an answer? Can it ever be anything else?
 
Read Matthew 6:9-13
 
4. The Lord’s Prayer begins with the expression “Our Father.” What does this tell you about your own relationship with others who also believe? Can we experience God as he intends without sharing that experience with other believers?
 
5. How would setting your heart and mind on God first help guide your prayers that follow? How would rushing to first bring up your needs and concerns change your approach toward God in prayer?

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