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The Lord's Prayer - Part 2

Tom Pennington • Matthew 6:9-15

  • 2013-01-27 AM
  • The Sermon on the Mount
  • Sermons


This morning, I invite you to turn to Matthew 6 as we really begin our journey through what is called the Lord's Prayer. I wonder, as we begin to deal with the issue of prayer, if you really believe what the Bible teaches about it. According to the scripture, the one true and living God actually hears the prayers of His people. Let me ask you this morning. In your heart, do you really believe that? Do you really believe that when you bow your head or when you lift your head and eyes toward heaven and you, as a believer talk, to God that He hears you? This is the voice of scripture. 2 Samuel 22:7 says: ". . .he heard my voice, and my cry for help came into His ears." Psalm 18:6. "In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God for help. . . He heard my voice, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears." Psalm 34:6. "This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him…" Psalm 34:15. "The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry." Psalm 34:17. "The righteous cry, and the Lord hears…" 1 John 5:14, coming to the New Testament: ". . .this is the confidence which we have before Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us."

In spite of those amazing examples and promises, most Christians don't pray very much. In fact, I think there's probably no other topic that is as convicting as this one: I don't know a single Christian who is convinced that their praying is where it ought to be. The heart of the problem, I think, is that we say we believe in the supernatural, but we live as if we were materialists; that is, as if we believed all that existed were the material universe. Francis Schaeffer addressed this issue and this glaring inconsistency when he wrote an article for Christianity Today entitled The Universe and the Two Chairs. Actually it was originally the last chapter of his book Death in the City, but eventually it was put into an article in Christianity Today. And essentially, he's dealing with this issue of: there's the universe and we can sit in one of two perspectives on the universe. There's the materialist's chair. He believes that all that exists is the material world – what can be seen and felt and touched. And then there's the supernaturalist who believes not only is there the material world, but in addition to that, surrounding and involved with this world, is a supernatural God. This is what he wrote in that article: "Once I was flying at night over the North Atlantic. It was 1947 and I was coming back from my first visit to Europe. Our plane, one of those old DC4's with two engines on each wing, was within two or three minutes of the middle of the Atlantic. Suddenly, two engines on one wing stopped. I'd already flown a lot, and so I could feel the engines going wrong. I remember thinking, if I'm going to go down into the ocean, I'd better get my coat. When I did, I said to the hostess, There's something wrong with the engines. She was a bit snappy and said, You people always think there's something wrong with the engines. So I shrugged my shoulders, but I took my coat. I had no sooner sat down than the lights came on and a very agitated copilot came out. We're in trouble, he said. Hurry and put on your life jackets. And so down we went, and we fell and fell until, in the middle of the night with no moon, we could still see the water breaking under us in the darkness. And as we were coming down, I prayed. Interestingly enough, a radio message had gone out, an SOS that was picked up and broadcast immediately all over the U.S. in a flash news announcement: There is a plane falling in the middle of the Atlantic. My wife heard about this and at once she gathered our three little girls together and they knelt down and began to pray. They were praying in St. Louis, Missouri, and I was praying on the plane. And we were going down and down. Then, while we could see the waves breaking beneath us and everybody was ready for the crash, suddenly the two motors started working again, and we went on into our destination. When we got down, I found the pilot and I asked what happened. Well, he said, it's a strange thing, something we can't explain. Only rarely do two motors stop on one wing, but you can make an absolute rule that when they do, they don't start again. We don't understand it. So I turned to him and I said, I can explain it. He looked at me and said, How? I said, My Father in heaven started it because I was praying. That man had the strangest look on his face and he turned away."

Schaeffer draws this application at the end of the article. He says, "What one must realize is that seeing the world as a Christian does not mean just saying, I am a Christian–I believe in the supernatural world, and then stopping. It is possible to be saved through faith in Christ and then to spend much of our lives in the materialist's chair. We can say we believe in a supernatural world, and yet live as though there were no supernatural in the universe at all. It is not enough merely to say, I believe in the supernatural world. Christianity is not just a mental assent that certain doctrines are true. This is only the beginning. This would be rather like a starving man sitting in front of great heaps of food, saying, I believe the food exists; I believe it's real, and yet never eating it. It is not enough merely to say, I am a Christian, and then in practice to live as if present contact with the supernatural were something far off and strange." He concludes this way: "Many Christians I know seem to act as though they come in contact with the supernatural just twice – once when they're justified and become a Christian and once when they die. The rest of the time they act as though they were sitting in the materialist's chair."

That's really a sobering indictment of our faith, isn't it? We say we believe that there is a God who intervenes in human history, human affairs, but then we live and act as if we sat in the other chair. When it comes to prayer, we must be convinced supernaturalists. We must believe, as Hebrews says, not only that He is, but that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. We must embrace and act upon the promises that God has made: "The righteous cry, and the Lord hears…" "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." That is why we pray.

Now last week, we looked at the second of the two versions of the Lord's Prayer, the one in Luke 11 that the Lord gave in answer to a request by one of His disciples, who had just seen Jesus praying, and when Jesus finished praying, he said, "Lord, teach us to pray…" We examined that context together. But this morning, I want us to turn our attention back to Matthew 6 because here is the first time that Jesus taught us this model prayer, at least the first time that it's recorded in Scripture. And the most complete of the two versions is the one found here, as well. Let me read it for you, although I know the words are familiar; in fact, most of us have already memorized them. But I want you to look at it and read it through with me as if for the first time. Matthew 6:9.

Pray, then, in this way: 'Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.' For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions."

Now let me remind you that we are in the middle of a large paragraph, a paragraph that begins up in verse 1 of chapter 6 and runs down through verse 18. It's about the dangers of hypocrisy. The theme of the paragraph comes in verse 1: "Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them…" And then Jesus gives three examples of hypocrisy in our spiritual activities. The first example is hypocrisy in giving, verses 2 to 4; the second example, hypocrisy in our praying, verses 5 to 8. And the third example comes in verses 16 to 18 – hypocrisy in fasting. Now having dealt with the issue of hypocrisy in prayer in verses 5 through 8, Jesus temporarily leaves the subject of hypocrisy and takes a small sidetrack. That is to develop our understanding of prayer. He gives us here the Lord's Prayer in which He teaches us how to pray.

Now today we begin to examine the prayer itself. Before we start to look at the individual parts, let's consider for a moment the prayer as a whole. A couple of issues we need to address: first of all, how do we use it? What is the legitimate way to use the Lord's Prayer? There's been a lot of debate in the history of the church about this but fortunately, in the genius of the Spirit, our Lord has told us how to use it because when He introduces the two different versions of the prayer - the one here in Matthew 6, the other in Luke 11 - He introduces them differently and He explains in those two introductions how we should use this prayer.

Let's look at the first one here in Matthew 6. Look at verse 9. It simply begins: "Pray…" Let me remind you that Jesus already has told us He expects His disciples to pray. Back up in verses 5, 6 and 7, He says: "When you pray…" And now here in verse 9, He commands us to pray. Verse 9 begins with an imperative, a command from our Lord Himself. Listen. No matter how busy you are, no matter how distracted you are, there is no option for you. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, Jesus says pray. Make prayer a part of your life.

He goes on to say in verse 9: "Pray, then…" Then is the normal Greek word that's usually translated therefore. Jesus has just told us in verse 8 that the content of our prayers is not to be meaningless repetition. So what should be the content of our prayers? Verse 9: "Pray, therefore, in this way…" Now Jesus, by using that expression in this way, is not saying that every time you pray you should say only these words; rather He is saying that He is about to provide us with a model, a pattern, to help us fashion all of our prayers. Think of the Lord's Prayer as like a skeleton on which you can hang the meat of your own prayers. Think of it as a pattern for you to follow in cutting and shaping your own prayers. Think of it as a roadmap that guides you down the right path in your own praying. Just like the Ten Commandments are an outline of the entirety of God's law condensed into just ten Hebrew words that could be easily memorized; in the same way, in this prayer, Jesus condenses everything that should ever be a part of our prayers into a small package that even a child could memorize. In fact, most of us sitting here today know the Lord's Prayer from memory. Understand that this prayer, then, provides all of the categories of prayer. Every prayer in scripture–every word of every prayer in scripture– is summarized and outlined in these brief words.

Cyprian, the bishop of Carthage in the 200's A.D., wrote: "What matters of deep moment are contained in the Lord's Prayer! How many and how great, briefly collected in the words, but spiritually abundant in virtue, so that there is absolutely nothing passed over that is not comprehended in these, our prayers and petitions." Tertullian, writing in the 100's A.D., said "this is a new outline of prayer." Hugh Latimer, the English reformer and martyr of the 1500's, said: "This prayer is the sum and abridgement of all other prayers. All other prayers are contained in this prayer." If you can remember the Lord's Prayer, and you probably already do, then you have a pattern that you can always carry with you of how to pray. You have a structure for your own prayers. So our Lord intends for us to use this prayer as a pattern: "Pray in this way…"

But compare what He says here as He introduces the prayer with what He says in Luke 11. In Luke 11:2, He introduces it this way: "He said to them, 'When you pray, say…'" We could paraphrase it: When you pray, use these words. So throughout the history of the church, most have believed that it is acceptable for us to use these words (the words themselves) both in private and in corporate prayer as long as our minds are engaged, as long as we don't allow the words to become meaningless repetition that He's just warned us about in verse 8. Sadly, unfortunately, I think most of the time when this prayer is recited verbatim, it's prayed as meaningless repetition without the mind engaged. However, the fact that that is the common occurrence does not mean that it's inappropriate or unacceptable for us to use these words. Martyn Lloyd-Jones put it this way: "It seems to me that we can never remind ourselves too frequently of this particular form. And for myself, I have always been comforted by this thought – that whatever I may forget in my own private prayers, as long as I pray the Lord's Prayer I have covered all the principles, on condition of course, that I have not merely mechanically repeated the words, but I've really prayed from my heart and with my mind and with my whole being."

I would encourage you to consider, maybe as much as once a day, letting the words of this prayer themselves frame your prayer, but always with your mind and heart engaged, always from your heart as opposed to meaningless repetition. So the use of this prayer: it's a pattern for our prayers and it's also acceptable to use the words themselves as an expression of our prayer.

The second issue about this prayer as a whole is its structure. You need to understand kind of how it's put together. Its structure consists of three obvious parts. You have the preface: "Our Father who is in heaven". You have the conclusion: "For Yours is the kingdom and the power and glory forever. Amen." And then you have the petitions. Now, how many petitions are there in the Lord's Prayer? There's been debate about that as well, through the history of the church. The church father Augustine, and Luther followed him, said that verse 13 – notice verse 13. They said that the petitions there were actually two different petitions. One petition was "do not lead us into temptation"; the second petition, "deliver us from evil." So they taught there were seven petitions in the Lord's Prayer. I have to agree with the many commentators that follow John Calvin here, and this view understands verse 13 to be only one petition. And I think that'll make sense when we look at it. The wording and the way it's put together make sense that that's really only one petition and not two. So that means the structure of the prayer then includes a preface, six petitions which give us the six categories of prayer, and then a conclusion.

So let's begin by examining what is usually called the preface or the invocation. Look at verse 9 again: "Pray, then, in this way: 'Our Father who is in heaven…'" Now most biblical prayers share this in common; they begin by recognizing the greatness or the goodness of God. Let me give you a couple of examples. Let's start with a corporate prayer, a prayer prayed in public by Solomon at the dedication of the temple in 1 Kings 8:23. Solomon begins his prayer this way:

O Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like You in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart, who have kept with Your servant, my father David, that which You have promised him; indeed, You have spoken with Your mouth and have fulfilled it with Your hand as it is this day."

That was just the introduction to his prayer. That was just the beginning. And this was prayed corporately at the dedication of the temple.

What about private prayer? Did they begin with this kind of preface? Well, Daniel gives us some insight into a private prayer that he prayed in Daniel 9:4. He says: "I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed and said, 'Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and His steadfast love for those who love Him and keep His commandments…" Corporate prayer – a preface, an invocation; private prayer – a preface, an invocation.

You say, well what about the New Testament? Does that trend continue when you get to the New Testament? It does. Let me give you one example. Acts 4:24. When the apostles are released from their persecution before the Council, they go back and report to the disciples how they were treated. They joined together in prayer and this is their prayer: "They lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, 'O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them…'" And then they go on to spell out their petitions.

Now that's an interesting trend, isn't it? What do we learn from the fact that biblical prayers usually include a preface or an invocation? Well, if you're like me, and I'm sure you are because this is the age in which we live, you're always in a hurry. You're in a hurry to get up. You're in a hurry to get breakfast. You're in a hurry to get off to school or work and to do whatever you need to do. You're in a hurry all the time. In addition to that general hurried state in which we live our lives, when it comes to prayer we're often coming to God with very serious pressing concerns on our hearts - a doctor's diagnosis, a disobedient child, a family member's spiritual condition, a job, a host of other really important crucial issues that weigh on us. And so what we're tempted to do, because of both our hurried condition and the press of those issues, is simply to rush into God's presence, lay out our requests and rush out. If I can illustrate it without being disrespectful, I think we often offer God a kind of texting prayer. It goes something like this: Father, need your help. Please help Sue's surgery to go well. Thanks. Talk to you later. Bye. But the fact that biblical prayer, including the model prayer that Jesus gives us here, usually begins with an invocation reminds us that as a habit of life, we should not rush in and rush out of God's presence. You say why? Well, you wouldn't think of talking to the President of the United States that way. Even if you were good friends with him or if you disagree with his policies, you still wouldn't handle him that way. You wouldn't dial up the president's cell phone and say, Hello, Mr. President. Could you please get to work on getting us some tax relief down here in Texas? Thanks. Talk to you later. Bye. You wouldn't do that (why?) because his position demands more respect than that.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones makes the point that throughout the history of the church, the great saints have all agreed on this: the first step in prayer should always be what they called recollection. What is that? Well, Lloyd-Jones defines it in this way: "There is a sense in which every man when he begins to pray to God should put his hand upon his mouth. As strange as it may seem to you, you start praying by saying nothing. You recollect what you are about to do. You collect yourself and you recollect what you are about to do. Just stop for a moment and remind yourself of what's about to happen. Take any of the great prayers which are recorded in the Old Testament or the New. None of them is what we might call this businesslike kind of prayer which simply makes a petition known to God and then ends. Every prayer recorded in the Bible starts with an invocation."

Now folks, the fact that there is an invocation or preface even in the Lord's Prayer, in this model prayer that Jesus gives us, reminds us that we must be careful and thoughtful when we approach the great God whom we serve. Now don't misunderstand what I'm saying. I'm not saying there's never an appropriate time for a sort of prayer that just cries out, in the moment, to God. Obviously, you find yourself in an emergency or you find yourself, as a doctor in the midst of a surgery, and you realize you're beyond your skill and, though you've prayed already, you throw up a prayer to God. Of course that's not what they're saying. There are biblical examples that show us that on occasion it is right and acceptable just to speak out to God in a short, unprefaced prayer. The key here isn't form. The key is attitude. What is your attitude when you approach God in prayer?

Now when we examine the contents of this preface that Jesus gives us here, it's amazingly compact in what it teaches us about how we are to approach God. Jesus teaches us here, that there is a particular mindset in which we are to approach God in prayer. Specifically, in those few words, "Our Father who is in heaven", Jesus prescribes three attitudes in which we should approach prayer–attitudes that should permeate all of our prayers. Let's look at them together.

The first attitude in which we are to pray is as a member of a family. Look at verse 9: "Pray, then, in this way: 'Our…'" Now my kids are going to give me no end of grief about this, but that's as far as we're getting today. I just want you to know that - the word our because that word is absolutely crucial. The very first word of the Lord's Prayer reminds us that genuine prayer is always plural. We live in a nation that is rampant with individualism. It's all about me and what I want. Most people have no real sense of a responsibility to the community in which they live or to the nation in which they live. Our culture, I think, finds John F. Kennedy's words, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" to be sentimental outdated rhetoric. And this mindset of individualism has infiltrated the church, so that most churches, this morning as we gather here, are filled with individuals who are there to get something for themselves. They're just that mercenary in how they think about it. There's no sense of I am here to worship my God and to serve the people around me. It's all about me. The truth is: biblically, a believer cannot survive as an island. That's not how God designed and intended things. If you waltz into church every Sunday to get something for yourself and then you waltz out without any sense of obligation to the people around you, you have ignored most of the New Testament. As we studied a couple of weeks ago, the common image the New Testament uses for the church is a body–an organism in which each member contributes to the health and function of the whole. In Ephesians 2:19, we are called members of God's household or God's family. And nowhere is that more true, or sadly, more neglected, than when we kneel to pray. This is, as Philip Ryken calls it, "a family prayer."

Now what exactly does it mean to pray as a member of a family? It means, first of all, that we should pray for others. Praying is plural. Notice the prayer again. Verse 9: "Our Father…"; verse 11: "Give us our daily bread"; verse 12: Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors"; verse 13: "Don't lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil." In this model prayer, there is only us and our and not a single me or my. Of course, that doesn't mean that it's never appropriate to pray for ourselves. But what it does mean is that when we come into prayer, we're not to think of ourselves as this little island, as if God were only concerned about us and us only. We're part of a family. We're connected to others and our concerns should be beyond ourselves, to them as well. It means the bulk of our prayers are not to be solely about ourselves, but are to be about others.

Let me ask you. Do you pray like that, or are all of your prayers selfish and individualistic, self-consumed with what you need and you want, with rarely a mention of anyone else? Listen. This is a clear barometer of our spiritual maturity. One way you can measure the maturity of a person is by how concerned they are about others. This is how it works in a family. Think about your own kids if you have kids. Or if not, you've seen this. That baby is born. That little infant only cares about whom? Himself! That little child doesn't care that his mother isn't feeling well or that his mother didn't get any sleep the night before. He just wants what he wants when he wants it. And then that child begins to grow into childhood; and there begins to be just a little glimmer of hope that they might think beyond themselves at some point. Even that, though, is usually twinged. It comes out something like this: Mom, Emily would like some dessert. And then delivered as kind of an afterthought, and I'd like some too. But when a person reaches maturity as a human being, there is genuine concern for others who are in that family. It works exactly the same way in the spiritual world. Spiritually mature people are genuinely concerned about the needs of others in their spiritual family. If all we pray for is our needs and our wants and our desires, frankly it shows us that we have a whole lot of growing and maturing left to do, that we are still in spiritual infancy or spiritual childhood. So we are to pray for others.

I think this word our also tells us that we are to pray with others. Scripture is filled with examples of Christians, or believers in the Old Testament, joining with others to pray. Let me show you one example from the New Testament from the life of the early church. Turn to Acts. You see this permeating the book of Acts – Christians praying together. Acts 1:13. After the ascension, the disciples of Jesus gather back to the city of Jerusalem into the upper room where they were staying. The eleven were there. Verse 14:

These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and (I love this) with His brothers. (Jesus' four half-brothers eventually came to believe in Him as Lord and Savior). At this time, Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (and it was a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons who were there together)

and primarily they were praying. Peter tells them, look. We need to replace Judas. He makes a speech and in response to that, verse 24: "They prayed and they said, 'You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen…'"

Turn over to Acts 2:42. After the wonderful sermon at Pentecost and three thousand people join the church in Jerusalem, it says: "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching, (to these corporate activities, the apostles' teaching) fellowship, the breaking of bread, and to prayer."

Turn over to 4:31. After the church prays (the disciples pray) because of the persecution that had been brought against the apostles…Well, notice the introduction to their prayer, verse 24: "When they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said…" They prayed together. Verse 31: "And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the Word of God with boldness."

Turn over to chapter 12. Peter's in prison and the church is meeting at the house of John Mark. They're meeting there to pray. Peter learns of this from the angel. Verse 12: ". . .when he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying."

Acts 13:3. the church in Antioch, trying to decide who to send out to do missionary work, select Barnabas and Saul because of the direction of the Holy Spirit. Verse 3: "When they had fasted and prayed, they laid their hands on them and they sent them away."

We see it just with two believers in Acts 16. Look at Acts 16:25. You see Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail. ". . .about midnight, they were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them…" – two men praying together.

Look over at 20:36. Here you have the meeting of Paul with the Ephesian elders. And as they conclude that gathering, realizing they're not going to see each other again, or at least very likely not going to see each other again, verse 36 says: "When they had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all."

Look down in verse 5 of chapter 21. When they get ready to set sail, it says: "When our days there were ended, we left and started on our journey, while they all, with wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city. After kneeling down on the beach and praying, we said farewell to one another."

Now I hope the weight of evidence is clear to you. The early church not only prayed for other Christians, but they prayed with other Christians. We should be praying together. It's right, for example, when we gather as the corporate people of God to worship, as we've done this morning, that we pray. We ought to be praying with our spouses, with our families. We ought to be praying as men, and as women, as youth. We ought to be praying in our home fellowships. Let me ask you. How much time have you spent over the last week in prayer with other Christians – either your spouse, or your children, or other groups of believers outside of that–maybe another man or a woman who you get together with, or a group that you're involved with, a Bible study? Let me challenge us all on this front. Let's all commit for the next few weeks as we study this issue of prayer, to get together. If you haven't yet started praying with your spouse, commit at least once a week to get together with your spouse for the intention and purpose of praying. Or every day would be even better. With your children, maybe with another Christian of the same sex if you're not married, or with a group to get together and commit to meeting whenever it's convenient, wherever it's convenient, in order to pray. We're to pray with others.

But here's the amazing thing about this. Even if you are completely alone, you can still pray with others. What do I mean by that? Because as you and I pray privately, we are always to remind ourselves that we are intimately connected with others, even as we pray. And we're to pray with that in mind –we're part of a family. Don't pray as if nobody else existed but you. Pray as part of a family.

By beginning His prayer with the word our, I think our Lord also meant to stress something else as well. Not only are we to pray for others and with others, but we're also to pray with Christ as our older brother. Jesus includes Himself in the word our. Now He is the unique, one of a kind, eternal, eternally begotten Son of God. There's no one else that fits in His category. He is the only one of His kind, the only Son by nature. We are sons and daughters of God as well, but we are not sons by nature. We are sons by (what?) adoption. John 1:12 – "As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name…" If you're a Christian, you have been adopted by God.

Now what amazes me about that is: that means Jesus is your older brother. Now I'm not making this up. This is how He thinks about us. Turn to Hebrews 2. As the writer of Hebrews celebrates the superiority of Jesus Christ, he says in verse 10 of Hebrews 2:

For it was fitting for God, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation (that's Jesus) through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father…

Now stop there. There are three different groups of people mentioned there. The first one is the Father obviously. The second one is He who sanctifies (that's Jesus) and those who are sanctified (that's us). So "for both He who sanctifies (Jesus) and those who are sanctified (that's us) are all from one Father; for which reason He (that's Jesus) is not ashamed to call them brethren…" As one person reminded me after the first service, Jesus ought to be ashamed to call us brothers and sisters. He has every right to be ashamed to call us brothers and sisters, but He's not ashamed to call us brothers, sisters. He thinks of Himself - and not just thinks of Himself - He is, by virtue of your adoption, your older brother.

So how does this apply to the Lord's Prayer? Jesus Himself, as your older brother, prays this prayer with you and for you. Now think about this. Jesus often began His prayers by addressing God as His Father, acknowledging that He's in heaven. One example is Luke 10:21: "At that very time, He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit and said, 'I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth…'" This is how Jesus often started His prayers. He was always concerned in His prayers that His Father's name be hallowed. John 12:28 – "Father, glorify Your name." John 17:1 – "Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, 'Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You…'" Christ was always consumed with the glory of God and that His name be hallowed, and that was His prayer.

He constantly prayed that God's kingdom would advance. In John 11 at the raising of Lazarus, Jesus raises His eyes in John 11:41 and said,

Father, I thank You that You've heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.

Jesus said, Father, I want these people to believe that You sent Me. I'm praying that Your kingdom would advance in their lives.

It was Jesus' persistent concern that God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The most graphic and powerful of those of course is in Gethsemane, where in Luke 22 He says: "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me;(not the cup of suffering, the cup of separation from the Father and enduring the wrath of God against sin. If it's possible, let this cup pass from Me) yet not My will, but Yours be done." May Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Jesus prayed regarding the needs of this life. For example, He prayed about His daily bread. By the way, every time we see Jesus eating in the gospels, He prays first. There are well-intentioned, even well-known pastors who I've heard say you don't need to do that. Well, I'm just saying if Jesus thought it was important for Him to do, then it's probably important for me to do as well. He prayed about His daily bread. He prayed before His meals - at the feeding of the five thousand, before the Last Supper.

Although Jesus never needed to pray for His own forgiveness, He did pray for the forgiveness of the sins of others. In Luke 23, He was saying, "Father, forgive them…" and He prayed for the spiritual protection and growth in holiness of His people. You remember the famous example of His prayer for spiritual protection for Peter. In Luke 22:31, He says:

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail…

Satan wants to crush your faith, but I have prayed that you'll be protected–that it won't be destroyed. And He prayed for all of us for our spiritual growth in holiness. In John 17, He prays not only for the eleven, but He prays for all who would believe through their word. And in John 17:17, He says, "Sanctify them in the truth…" That's a prayer. Father, sanctify them, make them holy.

Do you understand what's going on here? When you and I pray in these categories, we join our prayers with the Lord Himself. These were and are His concerns. His prayers were filled with these same petitions. Remember, the disciples said, Lord, teach us to pray like You pray, and that's exactly what He's doing here. This isn't merely our prayer; it's a pattern that reflects His own prayer.

And are you ready for this? This is truly mind-blowing. Right now, Jesus continues to offer these same petitions for you if you're in Christ. Right now as we sit here this morning, Jesus is praying these things for you. Look at Romans 8:34 . As Paul celebrates our security in the Spirit, he says: "Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised (watch this - Romans 8:34), who is at the right hand (notice–who is at the right hand) of God, who also is interceding for us." Right now, Jesus is at the right hand of the Father praying these petitions for you: Father, may Your name be hallowed in that Christian. May You be set apart by how they live and how they think and what they do. May Your kingdom advance in their lives and in every life they touch. May Your will be done in their life as it is in heaven. Give them what they need, Father, for their daily health and strength and food and provision. And Father, forgive their sins because I paid for those sins. And don't lead them into temptation, don't let them get in a position where their faith would be crushed, where they'd fall into sin and be destroyed, but rather lead them in the path of holiness. He is making intercession for you right now.

Look at Hebrews 7. The writer of Hebrews makes this same point. Hebrews 7:25: "Therefore He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives (why?) to make intercession for them." Chapter 9:24: "Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, (He didn't go into a human temple or tabernacle, an earthly one) a mere copy of the true one, but instead He's gone (into the reality) into the presence of God Himself, and He appears there in the presence of God for us." This is what's incredible. When you pray this pattern, you not only pray like our Lord prayed when He was here on earth, but you join Him in what He is praying for you right now.

When you approach prayer, make sure that you have the right attitude, that you pray as a member of a family. And that means praying for others, it means praying with others, and it means praying with Christ, our older brother, for the very same things that He is currently praying. There are two more crucial attitudes that we are to bring to prayer that are in this preface. We are to come as a child to a father and as a subject to a sovereign. Lord willing, we'll look at those next week. Let's pray together.

Father, we are amazed at Your wisdom, how You condense into such a few words through the wisdom of Your Son so much for us to learn. Father, teach us. O Lord Jesus, we pray as Your disciple of old prayed, Lord, teach us to pray. Help us when we come to prayer to have the right attitude, to come to You as a member of the family, praying for others and with others and remembering that even as we pray, we are joining our prayer with that of our Lord Himself in Your very presence. As we study this over the coming weeks, Lord, teach us how to pray. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

The Sermon on the Mount