Sermon: Our Father, Our Daddy
Scripture: Matthew 6:9
In this week’s lessons, we see how we are enabled to approach God in prayer because of the reconciling work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Theme: The Lord’s Prayer
One of the most important lessons that a Christian must learn in life is how to pray. We have already spoken about the meaning of prayer, and we have seen that prayer is talking with God. It is prayer to God the Father, on the basis of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit. Now we want to see how we should talk with God, bearing in mind that God is for us both our heavenly Father and the holy, righteous God of the universe. The text for our study is the prayer that Christ taught His disciples in answer to their question: “Lord, teach us to pray.” It is recorded in Luke 11:2-4 and in Matthew 6:9-13 at the heart of the Sermon on the Mount.
As we study this prayer it is important to realize that it was given to the disciples and to ourselves as a pattern for prayer and not primarily as a prayer to be recited. Joachim Jeremias, who has written one of the major studies on this prayer, calls it a “primer” upon which our prayers should be patterned. Oh, it is used as a prayer by Christians in most churches every Sunday, and this is not wrong. If a congregation is to pray together, it must have an established text, and using the prayer provided by the Lord Himself is certainly a good approach. But this is not the primary reason for His giving it. Luke tells us that the disciples had been watching Jesus pray and wanted to learn to pray as He did. He was not reciting prayers, or they could have learned to pray as He did merely by memorizing them. He was communing with God. Thus, when they said, “Lord, teach us to pray,” Jesus answered by giving them the so-called Lord’s Prayer as a pattern.
The same thing is evident from the way the longer version of the prayer appears in the Sermon on the Mount. For Jesus said, “After this manner… pray,” or “Pray like this.” He did not say, “Pray these exact words,” but “Pray like this.” Hence, the so-called Lord’s Prayer is a pattern.
Now men and women have always called this the Lord’s Prayer, and it is His in the sense that He gave it. But it is far more accurate to call it the disciples’ prayer or even our prayer. Jesus gave the prayer, but Jesus Himself could not pray it, for it contains a prayer for the forgiveness of sins, and He was sinless. He gave it for us. Thus it contains, as Samuel Zwemer once wrote, “every possible desire of the praying heart; it contains a whole world of spiritual requirements, and combines in simple language every divine promise, every human sorrow and want and every Christian aspiration for the good of others.”1
The greatest minds of the Christian Church have always known this, and as a result the Lord’s Prayer has been used throughout the centuries as an outline for countless expositions of the nature of prayer and Christian doctrine. In the early Church, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Tertullian, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Cyprian all wrote substantial expositions of the prayer. Augustine did the same. Dante expounded its significance in the eleventh canto of his Purgatorio. Meister Eckhart summed up the principles of scholastic theology by the categories that the prayer suggests. Luther gave countless expositions of the true meaning of the Lord’s Prayer to the heirs of the Protestant Reformation. And in the Presbyterian churches an exposition of the Lord’s Prayer forms the last nine questions of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.
Andrew Murray said that it is “a form of prayer that becomes the model and inspiration for all other prayer, and yet always draws us back to itself as the deepest utterance of our souls before God.”2
1Samuel M. Zwemer, Prayer (New York: American Tract Society, 1959), 23.
2Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer (Westwood, NJ: Revell, 1967), 27.
As we pray, what two things are we to remember about God? How does each of these influence our approach and ideas about prayer?
What is the primary reason for Jesus giving us the Lord’s Prayer?
Application: Do your prayers include the themes found in the Lord’s Prayer?
For Further Study: Download and listen for free to Joel Beeke’s message, “The Glory of God as Father.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)
For Further Study: To learn more about the Lord’s Prayer, the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is offering Philip Ryken’s book, When You Pray, at a special price of over 25% off.