The Disciple’s Prayer ~ Part 2

Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua

We continue in our study of the Disciple’s Prayer by unpacking Matthew 6:9.

The purpose of prayer is to glorify God’s name, and to ask for help to accomplish His will on earth.  This prayer begins with God’s interests, not ours: God’s name, God’s kingdom, and God’s will.

“Our Father in Heaven” ~ Matthew 6:9a

It might well be said that the word Father used of God is a compact summary of the Messianic faith.  The great value of this word Father is that it settles all the relationships of this life.

It settles our relationship to the unseen spiritual world.  Missionaries tell us that one of the greatest reliefs that monotheism brings to the heathen mind and heart is the certainty that there is only one God.  Pagan gods must all be placated, and a person can never be sure that he has not omitted the honor due to some of these gods.  The consequence is that the heathen lives in terror of the gods; he is “haunted and not helped by his religion.”

If we believe that God is Father, it settles our relationship with each other.  If God is Father, he is Father of all mankind.  The Disciple’s Prayer does not teach us to pray to My Father; it teaches us to pray Our Father.  It is very significant that in the Disciple’s Prayer the words I, me, and mine never occur.  Yeshua came to take these words out of life and to put in their place we, us, and ours.  The very phrase Our Father involves the elimination of self.  The fatherhood of God is the only possible basis for the brotherhood of mankind.

If we believe that God is Father, it settles our relationship to ourselves.  There are times when every person despises and hates himself.  We know ourselves to be lower than the lowest thing that crawls upon the earth.  The heart knows its own bitterness, and no one knows our unworthiness better than we do.

If we believe that God is Father, it settles our relationship to God.  It is not that it removes the might, majesty and power of God.  It is not that it makes God any the less God; but it makes that might, majesty, and power approachable for us.

We must never use the word Father in regard to God cheaply, easily, or sentimentally.  God is not an easy-going parent who tolerantly shuts his eyes to all sins and faults and mistakes.  This God, whom we can call Father, is the God whom we must still approach with reverence, adoration, awe and wonder.

So far we have been thinking of the first two words of this address to God – Our Father, but God is not only Our Father, He is Our Father in Heaven!”

The last words of this first phrase are of primary importance.  They remind us of the power of God.  In human love there is so often the tragedy of frustration.  We may love a person and yet be unable to help him achieve something, or to stop him doing something.  Human love can be intense – and quite helpless.  Any parent with an erring child, or any lover with a wandering loved one knows that.

But when we say, “Our Father in Heaven,” we place two things side-by-side.  We place side-by-side the love of God and the power of God.  We tell ourselves that the power of God is always motivated by the love of God, and can never be exercised for anything but our good.  We tell ourselves that the love of God is backed by the power of God, and that therefore its purposes can never be ultimately frustrated or defeated.  When we pray Our Father in Heaven” we must always remember the holiness of God and we must always remember the power, which moves in love – the love that has behind it the undefeatable power of God.

“May your Name be kept holy” ~ Matthew 6:9 b

It is possible that of all the petitions of the Disciple’s Prayer this is the one whose meaning we would find it most difficult to express.  First, let us concentrate on the actual meaning of the words.

The word that is translated holy in Greek means different, set apart or separate.  A thing that is holy is different from other things.  A person who is holy is separate from other people.  This petition means, “Let God’s name be treated differently from all other names; let God’s name be given a position which is absolutely unique.”

But there is still something more to this phrase.  In Hebrew, a name does not mean simply the name by which a person is called – Don or John or James, or whatever the name may be.  In Hebrew, the name means the nature, the character, and the personality of the person.

The Psalmist says, “Those who know your name put their trust in you” (Psalm 9:10).  That means that those who know what God is like, those who know the nature and the character of God will put their trust in him.

So, then, let us put these two concepts together.  Holy means to regard as different or separate.  The name is the nature, the character, and the personality of the person.   Therefore, when we pray, “May your Name be kept holy,” we mean, “Enable us to give to God the unique place which His nature and character deserve and demand.”

This petition is a prayer that we should enable us to reverence God as He deserves.  In all true reverence of God, there are four essentials.

  1. In order to reverence God, we must believe that God exists. We cannot reverence someone who does not exist; we must begin by being sure of the existence of God.  To the modern mind it is strange that the Bible nowhere attempts to prove the existence of God.  For the Bible, God is an axiom.  You may recall from your geometry lessons that an axiom is a self-evident fact that is not itself proved, but which is the basis of all other proofs.  For instance, `A straight line is the shortest distance between two points,’ or, `Parallel lines, however far apart, will never intersect,’ are axioms.  The Bible writers would have said that it was superfluous to prove the existence of God, because they experienced the presence of God every moment of their lives.  They would have said that a man no more needed to prove that God exists than he needs to prove that his wife exists.  He sees his wife every day, and he meets with God every day.
  2. Before we can reverence God, we must not only believe that God is, we must also know the kind of god that he is. No one could reverence the pagan gods. No one can reverence capricious, immoral, impure gods. But in God as we know him, there are three great qualities. There is holiness; there is justice; and there is love. We must reverence God, not only because he exists, but also because he is the God whom we know him to be.
  3. But a man might believe that God is; he might be intellectually convinced that God is holy, just and loving; and still he might not have reverence.  For reverence, there is also necessary a constant awareness of God.  To reverence God means to live in a God-filled world, to live a life in which we never forget God.  The trouble with most people is that their awareness of God is spasmodic, acute at certain times and places, totally absent at others.  Too often we are only aware of God in our time of greatest need.  Reverence means the constant awareness of God.
  4. We must believe that God exists; we must know what kind of a God he is; we must be constantly aware of God. But we might have all these things and still not have reverence. To all these things must be added obedience and submission to God.       Reverence is knowledge plus submission to His will.

To know that God is, to know what kind of a God he is, to be constantly aware of God, and to be constantly obedient to him – that is reverence and that is what we pray for when we pray: “May your Name be kept holy.” Let God be given the reverence, which His nature and character deserve.

When you pray, worship Father God for who He is and exalt His name!

In my next post, we will continue to explore the Disciple’s Prayer looking at Matthew 6:10.

Click here for a PDF version.

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