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Our Father

Our Father

Matthew 6:9-13

9 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL
VERSION ®. NIV®. COPYRIGHT © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by
Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Application

  • What was your main takeaway from the sermon?
  • Did the Holy Spirit lead you into any situations this week where you had an opportunity to put your takeaway(s) into practice?
  • What impact did those opportunities have on you spiritually?

Discussion Questions:

Cory made the point that the Lord’s Prayer is a pattern or template. How might a template for prayer be helpful?

Why is it that we should begin our prayer with a recognition of our privileged relationship? How does the Fatherhood of God toward us communicate the gospel?

What are some of the faulty/misinformed ways that people approach God in prayer?

How does relating to God as Father give us special access? Why is that important?

How can God’s fatherhood toward us help us better understand how he might answer our prayers (why is it that he sometimes answers our prayers differently than we would prefer)?


4.7.2024

Transcript

Our Father

*This transcript is generated from the sermon audio. This document has not been edited for spelling, grammar, or exactness.

If you’re able to locate a Bible, we’re going to be in Matthew, chapter six, verses nine to 13. And the Bible that we have here, there’s bibles in the chair racks in front of you. Matthew, chapter six, is on page 831. 831. We’re going to read these verses here, and then we’ll pray and we’ll get to work. This is Matthew, chapter six, verses nine to 13. It reads like this.

This, then, is how you should pray. Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Let’s pray. LORD, as we’ve opened your word together, we’re praying that by your spirit, through your word, you would teach us, that we would hear from you loud and clear. And we’re praying, God, that you would have your way here, Lord, that you would teach and instruct all of us in how to pray. So we’re very grateful for this time, and we commit it to you, and we pray these things in your precious name. Amen. Amen.

Well, we’re going to spend time over the next several weeks thinking about how to pray. The Lord gave us this famous prayer. We call it the Lord’s Prayer. It shows up two different times in scripture, but this is a profound subject matter. And, in fact, I was thinking this morning about how important this is and how necessary it is this week. I was doing some study on this, and it was surprising to me. But if you look at church history and you look at the different instructions that were given, there is a lot of, there are quite a few things that show up repeatedly where a lot of people say, you know what? If people are going to be mature followers of Christ, these are the things that they must know. And the Lord’s Prayer is often a feature of that. It’s something that is often onboarded as teaching and instruction on how to pray. And so I believe that this could be very, very important for us.

THE LORD HIMSELF PRIORITIZES THIS PRAYER

It’s important from the perspective of the Lord. He teaches it twice. It’s kind of like his greatest hits. When you’ve got an artist that does something and they realize, wow, this is important, and they just keep bringing it out. Well, the Lord teaches this lesson two different times. It’s one of the few things that he teaches multiple times that’s recorded for us in scripture. But obviously, it’s important to him. It shows up in the most famous of sermons, the sermon on the Mount. It’s a part of his core teaching on the kingdom and on what it looks like to be a follower of his. So he believes that it’s important. So we obviously should as well. We should recognize that the Lord made an emphasis on this teaching.

IT’S IMPORTANT TO THE DISCIPLES

It’s also important because it’s a teaching that the Lord gave in response to the disciples requesting it, which is the other instance of it in Luke chapter eleven. The other time that it shows up in the Bible is Luke chapter eleven. And there you’ve got the disciples recognizing or making a connection to the Lord himself in his life of prayer. I’ll show it to you. It’s verses one and two of Luke chapter eleven. It says, one day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, Lord, teach us to pray. Just as John taught his disciples. And Jesus said to them, when you pray, say. And then he gives the Lord’s prayer in that other instance there in Luke chapter eleven. So this is one of those things that the disciples recognized was significant. It shows up in the sermon on the Mount. It shows up in the life and ministry of the Lord. And so they request, can you teach us how to pray? When he does that, he gives them the outline of the Lord’s prayer there in Luke chapter twelve. It’s one of those situations where you realize they saw the Lord in all these different settings doing all kinds of different things, but they had the wisdom to request from him. This one feels important. This one feels important. The ability that you have to fellowship with your father feels important. Could you please teach us how to do that? Isn’t it interesting that they didn’t ask? You know, we noticed that you’re really good at preaching. Like, when you preach, lord, everyone is just riveted, and you’ve got these amazing illustrations, and everyone’s just hanging on your every word. And then they leave from your preaching event, and they’re changed by it. So could you teach us how to preach like you? They don’t do that. They also don’t ask them, hey, you’re, you know, you’re really great at leading small groups. It’s incredible. We watch you interact and interface with these groups of people. You ask those perceptive questions you draw out from them. You’re able to kind of tie things in and then make application. You’re so good at leading small groups. Could you teach us how to do that? No, they don’t ask that one. They don’t ask for lessons on leadership. They could look at them and go, man, you’re doing such a great job of holding together this group of people. We’re all different from each other, but you’ve got incredible vision, and you’ve got incredible clarity on where we’re going together, and you’re doing a great job of leading. Could you teach us how to lead? No, they request here, lord, could you teach us how to do what you do? Could you teach us to pray? And if they perceive that to be important, we should as well. We should recognize that this is an important lesson. They didn’t always ask for the right stuff, by the way. Sometimes they asked inappropriate things. They would say things like, lord, when you come into your kingdom, can I have the best seat in the house? He’s like, good grief, have you heard nothing? In my kingdom you’re going to be on the floor washing feet. He said, those who are least in my kingdom are the greatest. But he says, you didn’t get that one right. Times they’ll make a request, and the Lord has to correct them. Not so here. When they request to be taught or instructed on how to pray like him, he straight away gets into this teaching that we call the lord’s prayer. So it’s important. It’s a profound subject matter. Some have called it. Thomas Watson calls it a body of divinity. To look at the Lord’s prayer and to reflect on it is to interact with a divine teaching. Some have called it the compendium of the gospel. You want to understand what the gospel is. You can look to the Lord’s prayer, and you can learn about the good news of what God has done. It is a beautiful and important thing. So we as a church are coming together week by week, and we’re spending time in this prayer. We’re spending time looking at Matthew, chapter six, and this teaching or this instruction on the Lord’s prayer that he offers us.

THE LORD’S PRAYER AS A PATTERN FOR PRAYING

And what we find then is we find that it’s a pattern, that this is a pattern. It’s an outline. It’s not something that we’re only supposed to recite. It’s not just this prayer that you go, okay, guys, we need to memorize this thing. And many of us probably have. We’ve got this thing memorized. We’ve heard it over and over again. It’s not just this thing that we memorize. And then we bring it out and we say, okay, we’re going to recite it together. And in a lot of liturgy that is the case. You do the Lord’s prayer. On a week-by-week basis, you together as a congregation and different churches, will recite the Lord’s prayer. Now, I’m not saying that that’s inappropriate. I think that there’s a value to that. But what I want you to see here is that the Lord is giving us a pattern that is supposed to inform all of our praying, not just something to be memorized and recited. It’s meant to be onboarded, to become the operating system of how we pray as believers.

We Should Pray “Like” This

So look at verse nine and the literal versions actually put it like this. When he gives this teaching in Matthew, chapter six, he says, pray then. This is the literal version of it. Pray then, like this. It doesn’t say, pray these words. Pray these exact words. Recite them. He says, when you pray, pray then like this. Use this pattern as the thing that informs how you communicate with God. It is a pattern for us to learn. It’s a pattern.

There are no Instances of the Lord’s Prayer Recited in the NT

One of the reasons why I would say that is because I don’t find in the New Testament any other instances where the Lord’s prayer is recited, even though there are all kinds of prayers recorded throughout scripture. You’ve got Paul and you’ve got John and Peter and James and others documenting these prayers, but you never find them simply reciting the Lord’s prayer again. But all of their prayers sound an awful lot like this, an awful lot like the Lord’s prayer. They’ve been taught well by their master. And then finally, the context itself warns us of mere recital, of using empty words without our hearts being engaged in it. In verse seven of Matthew, chapter six, the Lord is telling them, there are some things to avoid here. When you pray, he says, when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. There’s a way to pray that is an unbelieving prayer, that thinks the way to pray is to say the right things, even though you don’t even know what it is that you’re talking about. It’s like a spell or an incantation. It’s like Doctor Strange or onward. All the kind of entertainment stuff that we have nowadays that basically can communicates. There’s something that if you could say it the right way, if you said these words word for word, then God would be obliged to do something for you. So it’s warning us of that. It’s telling us, no, this is the pattern, not just the thing to be recited. This is the way in which all of our prayers should be informed. So J.I. Packer puts it like this. Jesus is teaching that prayer will be acceptable when the attitudes, the thoughts, and the desires expressed fit this. When we pray, and it sounds like the Lord’s Prayer because we have been immersed in it and we begin to think about praying in terms of what the Lord has instructed us here, that’s when our prayer will be acceptable to God. He says, every prayer of ours should be praying the Lord’s prayer in some shape or form. In other words, the ambition for this series is that this would become so real to us that every time we go before the throne of God’s grace, we’re praying on the basis of these concepts that we’re thinking through what God has given us here, and we’re praying in accord with it. That means that we need to become familiar with this teaching and we need to spend time thinking through all these little nuanced details of this prayer.

FATHERHOOD AS THE BASIS OF CHRISTIAN PRAYER

So the first thing that we find is this idea that we begin our prayers recognizing our relationship with God. When you pray this then is how you should pray. Our father in heaven. We begin acknowledging that he is our Father. We begin recognizing the relationship that we have as believers and the privilege that we have of calling God our father. That’s where we start, according to the Lord. And you might ask, what other option is there? How else could you pray? And the other option is the more common one, and it’s still common even in christian circles. The other way to relate to God is not on the basis of the relationship that we have, that is a privilege, but on the basis of our performance. We relate to God as though he is somebody that we are trying to appease, that we are trying to recommend ourselves to. And we pray to him on the basis of our performance and his greatness. And we talk to God in those terms instead of seeing it as this intimate relationship that he has made available to us. I’m going to show you verses five to eight, and this is the lead in to the teaching. And we’re not going to double click on it, but I’m just going to show you a few different features of it. So let’s look at them now. We’ll put them up on the screen. This is before the Lord’s prayer. He gives this instruction. He says, when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly, I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your father, who is unseen. Then your father, who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not pray like them, for your father knows what you need before you ask him. Now, again, we can’t double click on this, on this section here, but three things that we can bullet point that kind of prayer is performative.

Performative Prayer

The hypocrites are play acting. They’re putting on a show so that other people are looking at them and going, wow, you’re such a spiritual individual. And they’re overcompensating for what is actually not even real, because they’re praying to God to be heard by others. And Jesus is saying, they’ve already received their commendation. They’ve received their reward in full. How we should pray is privately with this intimacy that we have with our father. We go into the prayer closet, so to speak, and we pray to our father, who is unseen. And then your father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. We pray not in a way that’s performative, to try to impress other people. I remember I did youth ministry for eight years, and I probably spent the first half trying to convince the kids that were there that I should be there. They really liked the previous youth pastor. And I remember the time when we were both at a wedding of a student. And what I did was I totally overcompensated. Like, I was so insecure that I was trying to impress this other youth pastor who’s like, dude, I haven’t been a youth pastor there in, like, several years, and you’re trying to impress me. It was so dumb. But that’s how we often pray. We pray in a way that tries to communicate. No, I know God. Listen to the things that I say, and we use a holy language, and we use these different things that we try to sound impressive, and we try to make it sound like we have this intimacy with God. And other people are like, wow, that was a beautiful prayer. And God is telling us here, no, no, no. That’s an inappropriate motivation. That’s an inappropriate starting point to try to pray in order to make it seem as though you have this great relationship with God and other people are impressed by it. That’s not it.

Manipulative Prayer

Another feature of that style of prayer is that it’s manipulative thinking that you will be heard because of these many words. He says, do not pray like that. Do not pray. Thinking that there’s this special way in which if you had the right sort of meeting and you said the right sort of things, then God would be obliged to answer your prayers.

Naïve Prayer

And finally, it’s naive. He says, your father knows what you need. He knows what you need before you even ask him. And so be careful of starting out the prayer negligent of the relationship that is available to you through what God has done in the sending of his son. Be careful of praying to God on the basis of something other than him being your heavenly father. Jesus says, you should pray like this. Begin your prayer acknowledging God, who he is and what he’s done. Let me give you one more illustration of this from scripture. In Luke chapter 18, the Lord is teaching on prayer. On another occasion, and he gives this illustration. He says there were two people that went to the temple to pray, and he’s giving this contrast of approaching God appropriately versus approaching God on the basis of something that is not acceptable to God. He says two people go up to the temple to pray. One’s a pharisee. The other’s a tax collector. One is a person who studies the Bible, a religious person. He shows up to church all the time. The other one is a tax collector, which societally is a bad guy, like a sinner, a person who doesn’t belong in a church service, so to speak. He goes, they both go up to the temple to pray, and the Pharisee prays like this. And I’m paraphrasing here, but he prays, Lord, thank you that I’m not like him. Thank you that I’m not like this tax collector, because I know he’s a bum and I’m a good guy. And he begins to list off. I give money to the poor. I show up for church. I’ve studied the Bible. He’s listing off his performance. He’s listing off his righteousness, and he’s talking to God. Thank you, God, that I’m so wonderful, and I’m not like these other jokers, not like this guy over here. Thank you that I do the right stuff. A lot of times, people can pray to God, and it sounds like that, Lord, here I am. I though I might never say this out loud, here’s how my heart works. I think I deserve to be here. I think I deserve to be before your throne of grace, because, listen, I’m a good dude. Like, I try to do better than other people. And honestly, if you’re grading on a curve, I can look out here and go, I’m doing better than some. I know that much. And that is, jesus says, that’s not it. The tax collector, he says he was standing off at a distance and he wouldn’t even raise his eyes. He was like looking at his feet, just looking down. And he’s praying, God, have mercy on me, a sinner. And Jesus said, that contrast, you better get this. This is a big deal. Only one of those prayers was acceptable to God. Only one of those guys went home justified before God, and it was the tax collector. The tax collector related to God on the basis of mercy, whereas the Pharisee related to God on the basis of self righteousness. And what Jesus is telling us here is you have to learn how to pray to God on the basis of mercy. And when you pray and you say, our father, what you are confessing is that you have a relationship with God because of his mercy. You have been brought into the family, and that is a significant truth that should inform how you pray. J.I. Packer, he made this proposal. He said, if I were to try to summarize the New Testament in three words, he says, here’s what my proposal would be. Adoption through sacrifice. He says, at the very heart of the christian message is this idea that you are adopted into the family of God because of what Christ has done. It’s at the very heart of the christian message. You are brought into the family because of Christ. And if that becomes something that you recognize, then even when you communicate to God, it’s going to change your prayer life. If you believe that you’re there, you’re a child of God. Because what God has done through his son Jesus Christ, you will be in awe. In fact, one of the disciples was so gripped by this concept that it showed up in all of his writing. His name was John, and he wrote a gospel, and he wrote multiple letters to churches. In his gospel document, the gospel according to John, he writes like this, describing how anyone is brought into the family. He says, we’re not just talking about humanity being generically children of God, that all of us, anybody you ever meet is a child of God. He’s saying, no, there’s something that happens when somebody believes in Christ and they get brought into the family in a particular way. So he describes it here in John chapter one. He says, to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. Children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. He gives us this concept that there are people who are children of God. And he says, this is how they came to be, that they came to be children of God, born of God, by receiving him, by believing in his name, by believing in the work of Christ. Those that believe in Christ are adopted into the family of God. He was so moved by this concept that it shows up in all of his letters. In fact, he puts it like this. In one John three one, he says, see what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are. Believers are a people who recognize the privilege that we have of being adopted into God’s family because of Christ. And what should happen then is we should be so gripped by that concept that it moves us that we just walk around always thinking, good grief, can God really love me that much? That he has lavished his love on us, that he would call me his child? That’s who we are. We’re a people who have been brought into the family of God. And that should always stun us. That should always amaze us. That should always be the constant feeling of our relationship with God, that we are his family, his children, because of what he has done and the sending of his son, and that will change the way that we do everything. In fact, John, in his letter, he takes that concept, children of God, and he applies it to all kinds of different things, including prayer. He applies it to sinning. He says, look, if you’re a part of the family of God, you’ve got a new nature. So those that are children of God don’t go on sinning. That’s unnatural to them. That’s what he says in one John three nine. It’d be like a Williams putting up an artificial tree. It’s unnatural. That sort of thing shouldn’t happen. The family that owns a tree farm shouldn’t be putting up artificial trees. He says, listen, if you’re a child of God, you are a new creation. Sin, though it’s possible, and it does happen. He says that. He says if you try to pretend you don’t, you’re lying to yourself. But he says that is the unnatural expression, because now you’re in the family of God and he’s a holy God. You no longer go on sinning. He says, those who are in the family of God, those who are children of God, should love other people. Your relationship with others should start to look like God’s relationship to you. And he actually says, if you don’t have this, you should question whether or not you really are a child of God. Because in one John four eight, he says, God is love. He actually says, man. It’s weird, but a lot of people who call themselves children of God are behaving a lot more like a different father, a murderer, Satan himself. But children of God should be loving toward one another. Then he applies it to prayer. Finally, in chapter five, he says, this is the confidence we have in approaching God, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of him. He says, if you’re a child of God, you should recognize the privilege that you have of communicating with your father. So again, Jesus is saying, here’s what you need to know about prayer. You begin at the starting block of the relationship that you have with God on the basis of his mercy and grace, you start acknowledging and confessing that he is father to you, that you have this incredible privileged relationship.

FATHERHOOD AS PRAYER’S PRIVILEGE

It is a privilege, by the way, to stand before a holy God. It’s a privilege to be able to communicate to him so freely and so openly. It’s a privilege to be able to spill our guts to him. And he wants to know everything that’s going on, and he wants to hear from us. But one of the reasons why this doesn’t come naturally is because oftentimes we deal with God on the basis of his holiness, his kingship, his authority. And we in our society, we don’t always get this, but a lot of times authority is treated with respect and honor. And so even though it comes naturally to do that to God, it comes unnaturally to do that in other situations. But throughout history, there has been this inclination in the human experience to treat those in authority with respect. I’ll give you a couple examples of this one from scripture. Do you guys remember we did series in the Book of Esther? And that was during the time of a monarch, a king. And the king had a rule that you could not go into the court of the king without being summoned. And in fact, the law was such that if you were to do that, you’re putting your life at risk, because the law says if you go to the king without being summoned, the law says you could be executed on the spot. There is a provision, though, that if the king holds out his scepter to you, you can be pardoned. And so Esther comes into a situation where she needs to bring something before the king, but she has not been summoned, so she has to make a decision. Will I go to the king and risk my life because he’s not summoned me to come and hope that he holds out the scepter, or will I let this one pass? And it’s such a big deal that she goes into the king unbidden, and he holds out his scepter to her because she recognizes that she needs to communicate something about the purposes of God, and she has resolved to do that. Okay, the best illustration that I’ve heard on this is from Timothy Keller. What I want you to recognize is we are dealing with a heavenly father, one whose name is Holuid, one whose name is holy. And next week we’ll double click on that and we’ll think through the significance of that. But we need to recognize that we go to this holy one on the basis of him being our father. So, Tim Keller, he puts it like, prayer for most of us is a lot like going before this holy God. And we’re like, I know I shouldn’t do that. But Tim Keller puts it like this. He says, the only person who dares wake up a king at 03:00 a.m. For a glass of water is a child. You have that kind of access. You are dealing with the king. You are dealing with the holy one, the one whose name is meant to be hallowed, meant to be set apart. You’re dealing with the Father who is in heaven. You’re dealing with God. And there is a sense in which you should approach him with that trepidation of, like, he is so much greater than I am and I should respect him and I should honor him. But the christian basis of prayer and the privilege that we have is that God is now our father. So we come before him with this incredible access that he allows us to come into the presence of his holiness unbidden. In a sense, he’s saying, at any time you could come before me, you could approach my throne of grace with confidence, because you’re my child. And that means that our prayers can actually become audacious. We can begin to come before God like a little kid not knowing any better than, this is my dad, and I’ll come before him in the middle of the night to ask for something ridiculous, because he loves me. That’s where we start. Christian prayer starts at the love of God for us. The writer to the Hebrews makes this point clear. He says in chapter four, he describing the ministry of Christ, his priestly work, his sacrificial death, his empathetic ministry toward us. Verse 16 says, let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Christian prayer starts with an acknowledgement of God as our father. He loved us into his family. Therefore, we have a privilege of going to him very confidently with everything. So we pray with audacity, and we go before him boldly because of his love for us. That leads us finally to the purpose of prayer.

FATHERHOOD AS PRAYER’S PURPOSE

And we get this when we begin to think about the relationship between a father and the child, when we’re praying our father, we’re reminded of his nature and our nature, that we are his children and he is our father, and there’s a gap between us. So we go before him, and we can ask him for anything that’s on our heart, and we can spill the things that we’re struggling with. We can share anything with confidence that that’s okay before him. But we also acknowledge that he’s different from us. And when we pray, what we’re doing is we are having an intimate communication with him, and that’s changing us. We’re learning about the father as we interact with him, as we make these requests, and we hear his feedback, and we’re learning our hearts are being changed, our desires are being changed. What we’re requesting is changing because we’re dealing with this incredible God. And one of the things that happens is God, as we talk to him, will relate to us on the basis of his fatherhood toward us, meaning he will hear us and answer us according to his wisdom, not merely according to our wills. And that’s good news. Let me show it to you like this. I’ve got two kids. They’re very different from each other. My daughter, Reese, is a firstborn child, and she’s so sweet and so just mild mannered. So she will ask me something, and if I’m paying attention, I’ll go, what do you really want, babe? You know, like, you asked me something, and it was very polite and it was very kind, and it was maybe something that your brother would enjoy. So if I’m listening well, and I catch it, I’ll go, wait a minute. What do you actually want? And try to invite her to share even more, because there’s a trepidation there on her part, just because of her temperament and her personality. But if I’m listening, I’ll try to draw it out from her. My son Harrison is very different. He’s very bold in his prayers. Not his prayers. He’s not praying to me in his request. He’s asking me for things, and what he’ll do is he’ll come up with an idea and he’s a kind of dude that doesn’t have a lot of patience. The delayed gratification, not a thing for him. Okay, so when an idea pops in his brain, he goes, yeah, that’s got to happen today. So he’ll ask me for something. And so let’s just say it’s something that’s a good thing. That ash and I, my wife and I were like, yeah, dude, we want you to have that. We think that’d be a great idea. But there are going to be times where I have to hear what he’s saying, and even though it’s a yes, absolutely, I know we’re going to do that for him. There will be times where I will say to him, but not yet, because to always meet the request that he has in the moment actually wouldn’t be good for him. Now, he doesn’t totally get that. He doesn’t like that. If I tell him it’s tomorrow, I’ll just say, can we watch this? I’ll say, yeah, that sounds great. Let’s do it tomorrow. He’ll go, he’ll have a meltdown. But for his sake, for his maturity, there are going to be times where, though he doesn’t fully understand why and doesn’t like when I say yes, but not yet, it’s for his good. Now, if, as an imperfect parent, we can make that connection, we can say, there are going to be times where my kid will ask me something and I will respond with a level of wisdom and a level of understanding that this child doesn’t have. But I’m operating for their good. How much more God? How much more? A God who is holy and all wise and knows everything, right? So when we talk to God and we’re asking him for stuff, and he’s saying, yes, I’m your father. Just come to me. Bring all your concerns, all your anxieties, all your worries, all your everything. Just bring it before me. Let’s talk about this. We recognize that we’re dealing with a father who looks on us with love, but he has wisdom, he has understanding. He’s able to see the end from the beginning. He’s able to anticipate all these different things where if we always had it our way, we’d just make a big mess. If we just got what we wanted all the time, it would end up being very bad for us. But God is able to say, I will answer your requests on the basis of my love and my understanding of this world. I will answer these prayers in a way that will be for your benefit, even if you don’t fully get it, because he loves you that much. So our prayers are a privilege because we come before this God with the access that we have to him. But we come before him recognizing he’s our father who’s looking out for our best interests. And he’s our father who knows what is best for us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And he’s going to help us along the way because he’s making us more like his son, Jesus Christ.

CONCLUSION

As we conclude, then, when we pray, the Lord is reminding us here of the importance of starting. At the starting block. We come before God, acknowledging him to be our father. We come in a posture of humility because we’re there because of his mercy and grace. We are children of God because of Christ. The one who is preaching this sermon here and the sermon on the mount, the one who is teaching us and instructing us in the Lord’s prayer. He is the one who said, I will give up my status. I will transfer my status to you. He is the son of God who says, if you trust in me, I’ll take my robe and I’ll put it around your shoulders. If you trust in me, I’ll take my family ring and I’ll place it on your finger. And now the father will, when he looks at you, he will see an adopted child because of me. It says, when you pray, start there. Start on the basis of the mercy and grace of God. And when you pray, know that it is a privilege. You have access then to God by grace, so you can confidently go before him with any request and any petition, and finally go to God as a father, knowing that in his wisdom and in his love, he will always do what is best. He will work all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purposes. So we pray to him. We pray to our Father in heaven. Let’s do that right now.

Lord, thank you for the gift of communicating with you. Thank you that you desire to hear from us. Thank you for the privileged relationship that we have as believers in Christ, that we are adopted into the family of God. Lord, I pray that as we work our way through this series together as a church, that you would teach and instruct all of us in how to pray in a way that is pleasing to you. Lord, I hope and pray that you would change the way that we think about you, so that we would become astonished by your love that you have lavished on us, that we would be called children of God and that is what we are. Help us to believe that, please. We pray in your name. Amen.