Archive for Prayer

Praying to God as “Father” reminds us that we pray on the basis of our relationship with God. Our relationship with God is a love relationship, not a legal relationship. God desires an intimate relationship with us.

Prayer is one of the vehicles at God’s disposal by which he can demonstrate who he is. In John 14:13, Jesus said, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father” (NIV).

Jesus taught that we are to “hallow” the name of our heavenly Father. To hallow God’s name is to ascribe reverence, respect and awe to God’s name (cf. Exodus 20:7). In the Old Testament, Jews attributed such reverence to God’s name that they would not speak or write it. God’s proper name is Yahweh, which means “I AM THAT I AM.” Another important name for God is Adonai, which means, “The Lord God.” Out of reverence, the Jews took the consonants out of Yahweh and the vowels out of Adonai to form the word “Jehovah.” You can always recognize the Hebraic use of Yahweh in the Old Testament when you see the word “LORD” in capital letters.

So what does it mean to hallow God’s name? The word hallow finds its root in the Greek word hagiazo. The noun form of the word, hagios, gives us the word “holy.” Therefore, to hallow God’s name means to revere and speak his name with reverence.

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Oct
08

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father

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If prayer is something we are to do without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), then we need to make sure we are doing it properly. Jesus taught his disciples to pray, but its important to notice what he did not teach them. For example, he did not teach them the posture of prayer. Nothing is said as to whether we are to stand, sit or kneel. Neither did he teach them where to pray. He did not specify the living room, the church Sanctuary, the bedroom or the office. He simply said it should be done privately. He did not teach them when they should pray, which is a relief to some. You can pray in the morning, the afternoon or night. There is no right or wrong time to pray. Finally, he did not teach what we should wear or how to act when we pray. So most of the formalities of prayer are insignificant to Christ.

Prayer begins by calling God “father.” Father is probably one of the more common names we use when addressing God in prayer. Jesus’ example teaches that we should begin our prayer with the recognition that God is Father. In fact, when Jesus prayed he called God “Father” over seventy times. The only exception was his cry on the cross during the final moments of his crucifixion (Matthew 27:46).

There are two words for Father that are helpful to understand. The Greek word for Father is pater, where we get the word paternity. It is a word signifying one who nourishes, protects and upholds. Often it was used of the nearest ancestor, and was commonly used to describe the progenitor of the people.

The other word is abba, which is an Aramaic word denoting an unreasoning trust. In American English we would use the word “daddy.” It speaks of the love and confidence that a child would place in his dad.

When Jesus used the term Father, he was teaching the disciples that our relationship with God is an intimate familial relationship. When we pray, “our Father,” we are indicating an eagerness to come to God as a child that is beloved. All of the resources in the Father’s possession are ours to draw upon.

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When Jesus began teaching on the subject of prayer, he anticipated that there would be questions about how prayer should be offered. Prior to the model prayer he listed some basic do’s and don’ts about how to pray.

In Matthew 6:5-6, Jesus told the disciples to not pray like the hypocrites, because they pray with the wrong motive. They pray to impress other people. In the following two verses Jesus told the disciples to not pray like people of other religions, because they pray in the wrong manner. They pray to impress God.

How then shall we approach prayer?

1. We are to pray with sincerity. “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them.” (Matthew 6:5)

2. We are to pray with secrecy. “But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)

It has been said that the secret of religion is religion in secret. Notice also that Jesus assumes our prayers.

3. We are to pray with simplicity. “When you pray, don’t babble on and on like people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.” (Matthew 6:7)

Spending time in prayer will vary, depending on the need. Jesus is warning against the assumption that the longer you pray for something the more likely you will receive the answer you want to your prayer. Remember, Elijah called down fire on Mt. Carmel with a prayer consisting of 64 words.

4. We are to pray securely. “Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask Him!” (Matthew 6:8)

We can be confident knowing that God knows our needs. Even though he knows our needs we are not exempt from prayer. Prayer not only helps us find union with God. It also helps cultivate trust and gives him glory because we know who provides for us.

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