Lesson 96—January 3, 2016
The Lord’s Prayer (Part 1) Scripture: Matthew 6:9-13 (key verse—9)
Lesson Goal: To gain a better understanding of The Lord’s Prayer.
Introduction: The prayer recorded in Matthew 6:9-13, and in shorter, slightly different form in Luke 11:2-4, is commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer.” It has also been labeled “The Disciples’ Prayer” and “The Model Prayer.”
Having grown up in church, sometime during my childhood or teen years I memorized what we call “The Lord’s Prayer.” My first true recollection of repeating this prayer in a group setting took place when I was in high school back in the early 1970s. Every Friday night during football season, our coaches and players joined together to recite its words. This was the last thing we did before entering the stadium. Way back then, it seemed every coach and every player knew the words of this prayer. We may not have known its meaning or the theological significance of its words, but we could repeat it together.
Now please take a moment and count the number of singular pronouns in the prayer. How many did you count? What does this suggest about The Lord’s Prayer?
(V9) Before Jesus actually prayed the prayer recorded in verses 9-13, He began with a very brief word of introduction and instruction: “In this manner, therefore, pray.” He offered this prayer in contrast to the prayers and lifestyle presented by the Pharisees and scribes (see Matthew 6:1-7).
As followers of Jesus Christ, how important is prayer in our daily lives?
The phrase “in this manner” helps us to understand that Jesus did not say that each time we pray we must use these exact words. Indeed, He warned His followers about using vain repetitions as they pray (V7). Dr. Robert A. Cook offers an interesting word: “All of us have one routine prayer in our system; and once we get rid of it, then we can really start to pray!” Warren Wiersbe adds: “With some people, praying is like putting the needle on a phonograph record and then forgetting about it.” Jesus offered the prayer of verses 9-13 in direct contrast to repetitive self-glorifying prayer.
“In this manner” (Greek—“Houtōs oun),” literally means “in the
following manner, thus therefore, along these lines.” Jesus did not give the words that followed to be used in a vain repetitious, ritualistic manner, whether alone or in a group setting. “In this manner” helps us to understand that prayer consists of many elements, such as adoration, praise, thanksgiving, exaltation, worship and forgiveness. “In this manner” simply means to pray in this way; it does not mean to pray only using these words. Prayer should never be reduced to an empty recitation where words become meaningless.
As we pray, how can our words become meaningless?
No prayer should ever be mechanically-repeated words that become void of meaning and sincerity. Jesus offers His followers instruction to guide us in how to pray, as well as how not to pray.
(V9) “Our Father in heaven”—This prayer begins with the word “our,” so we are to understand that this prayer can be used corporately, although the manner of it, or the how of it, certainly pertains to private and personal prayer as well. It is a wonderful blessing to be part of God’s family, so as the family of God, we would do well to understand “that we must pray not only alone and for ourselves, but with and for others; for we are members one of another, and are called into fellowship with each other” (Henry).
“Father” Greek—“Patēr” which is often rendered “Abba” in Aramaic (the language which Jesus and most Palestinian Jews commonly spoke). “Abba” is equivalent to our word “daddy” and carries a more intimate and personal connotation than Patēr.
As a believer, what does it mean to you to be able to speak of God as “Father”? Please answer prayerfully.
John Phillips offers these very practical words:
We should begin by showing appreciation for God’s person: “Our Father in heaven.” That’s the address on the envelope, so to speak, and what an intimate and comforting address it is. We address our prayer to our Father. The greatest name for God in the Old Testament is Jehovah— the God of covenant who makes “exceeding great and precious promises” to His people and keeps those promises. But the greatest name of all for God is our “Father,” a name that implies relationship, resources and responsibilities beyond “all that we ask or think.”
We may use the name Father for God, but there must never be careless familiarity. God’s name must not be used in a casual, flippant manner.
What are some examples of using God’s name in a flippant disrespectful way?
“Hallowed be Your name”— to hallow God’s name is to revere, honor, glorify, and obey Him. To hallow the name of God is to give the greatest respect to His name.
How can a person disrespect the name of God?
Something very important to think about: For followers of Jesus Christ to live in disobedience to God is to take His name in vain or to disrespect the hallowedness of His name. Our disobedience brings dishonor to the name of God.
Why is it important that we honor the name of God? What are some ways we honor the name of God?
The Life Application Bible Commentary helps us to understand these verses:
The phrase “our Father in heaven” indicates that God is majestic and holy; He transcends everything on earth. But He is also personal and loving. The first line of this model prayer is a statement of praise and a commitment to “hallow,” or honor, God’s holy name. Christians, who bear the holy name of Christ, must be responsible to hallow him in every aspect of their lives. These words remind us that God wants to hear and listen as a loving Father, but that coming to Him is an awesome privilege. We must enter the King’s throne room respectfully.
God’s name hallowed means that His name is set apart and different from all other names. As we pray, we should recognize the holiness of God represented by His name.
How do we disrespect the name of God by the praise and honor we give to athletes, actors, musicians, and politicians?
Please answer today’s final questions prayerfully and with honor to His name.
As Christians, we name the name of Christ; how are we honoring His name by our actions, attitudes, speech, integrity, pureness of heart and worship?
How did we honor His name by studying this lesson?