Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Lord's Prayer, Part 1

The Lord's Prayer has been apart of the Church’s worship since its inception. The Didache, a 1st century Christian document (meaning it very well may be as old as the Gospel of John!), teaches that it is proper that the Lord’s Prayer be prayed three times per day. Because we pray it every day as a discipline of our personal prayer life, and because we pray it collectively as part of our liturgical worship on the Lord’s Day, we should understand it!

There are seven petitions in the prayer: the first half focus our attention on the object of our worship: God. In light of what we profess about God in the first half, we then in the second half of the prayer ask God to intercede in our life through his provision and protection. Tonight, we shall look at the first three phrases of the Lord’s Prayer: 1) Our Father; 2)Who art in heaven; 3) Hallowed by thy name.

Our Father…

Notice how we begin this prayer. We do not pray to 'My Father' or simply just 'Father.' Rather, we pray collectively to God by saying 'Our Father.' God the Father belongs to all of us. Praying this way on a Sunday morning when we can gather together makes sense, but what about when we pray by ourselves? This prayer teaches us that even in our private prayer life we never pray to God outside of the life of Faith, that is, the life of the Church. Even when we pray this prayer by ourselves, we still join our voices with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. We pray this prayer with each other: I pray this prayer with you, and I pray this prayer with Jesus for the Father is truly 'Our Father.'

Why do we refer to God as Father? God is our Father not because we are his creatures but because by faith we are taken up into the Father-Son relationship through our union with God the Son, Jesus Christ. Paul teaches in Galatians 4 that we have been adopted as sons and daughters by God the Father through the life, death, and resurrection of God the Son.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God (Gal. 4:4-7).

Paul makes a similar argument to the Roman Christians as well:

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Rom 8:14-16).

When we pray 'Our Father' in faith, we claim God’s promise. We declare that we are his sons and daughters, we proclaim that we share union with God the Son, and we affirm that God the Holy Spirit indwells us to seal our faith. Thus, we are an heir to the kingdom of God!

Who art in Heaven…

This phrase reminds us that our Father is the all-powerful and transcendent God of the universe. He breathed the earth into existence by his Word. He does not dwell in our immanent realm; rather, his throne room is the splendor of heaven where angels and archangels evermore proclaim his Glory! Yet, God the Father reaches down to our immanent realm to invite us into a loving relationship with Him through his Son by his Holy Spirit.

Hallowed be thy name…

Finally, we hallow God’s name. God revealed his name to Moses, the name YHWH (in English, Jehovah), loosely translated "I am that I am." To know God’s name is to know God himself. We ask that God’s name be 'hallowed' not because it must be made holy, for God’s name is already holy! Instead, we ask God’s name to be revered as holy on this earth because he already is holy! Basically, we ask that the gospel would go forth to every tribe, nation, and tongue: evangelism! We declare that God’s name is holy, and we preach it to the nations.

God demonstrates the holiness of his name by remembering his promises given to us in Jesus Christ. The promise is the free forgiveness of found in Christ alone offered to you. We hallow God’s name by remembering his promise in our own lives and sharing it with our neighbor.

Perhaps the greatest way we remember the holiness of God’s name is through the ceremony of the Eucharist, where Jesus command us to continue the holy meal of his body and blood in remembrance of him. Paul adds that every time we celebrate the Eucharist we declare Jesus' death: "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes" (1 Cor. 11:26)

We pray that God’s name would be hallowed through all the world. God hallows his name by remembering his promises to us declared in Jesus Christ. We participate in those promises every time we gather together for the Holy Communion meal.

Therefore, trusting in God’s promise and according to his Word, we are bold to pray, "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name."

No comments:

Post a Comment