ďOur Father In HeavenĒ††††††††††††† Matthew 6:9a†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† July 4, 2010
SI:† Weíre studying the Lordís Prayer this summer.
The Lordís Prayer is mentioned twice in the New Testamentó
†† here in Matthew in the Sermon on the Mount and also in Luke 11.†
In Luke, the setting is different.† The disciples have been watching Jesus.†
†† Theyíve heard him pray, seen him go away and prayósometimes all night.†
†† They must have noticed the peace and confidence he had in prayer.
So they said:† Lord, teach us to pray.† Jesus said, When you pray, pray like this:
†† And he gave them the Lordís Prayer.
The Lordís Prayer is a model prayer.
†† Itís a guide, not just for our words, but for our minds and hearts,
†† as we pray to the living God.
INTRO:† The Barna Group is an organization that studies religion in America.
A few years ago Barna did a study to determine the percentage of American
†† adults that pray at least once a week.† What do you think that number was?
†† What percentage of American adults pray at least once a week?
Write down your answer and if you get it right you win a free cup of coffeeó
†† brewed by our own barista Don Hubbard!
According to Barna, the number is 84%.†
†† 84% of American adults pray at least once a week.
And Iím sure that if they had expanded the study and asked, do you ever pray?
†† Have you ever prayed?† It would have been in the high 90s.
Thatís because prayer is a universal practice.†
†† Virtually everyone prays at one time or another,
††† no matter what their religion or philosophy.†
We rented the original Karate Kid movie a few nights ago and in one scene
†† Daniel, the karate kid comes to Mr. Miagiís house for karate lessons,
†† and finds the karate master praying in front of his Buddhist shrine.
Buddhists pray or meditate.† Muslims pray.† Hindus pray.
†† All the great world religions have prayers of various kinds.
And you know the old saying that there are no atheists in foxholes.
†† Even many people who claim there is no God will cry out in desperationó
†† O God, if there is a God, help me.
I once read a book about major airline crashes and each account
†† included transcripts from the cockpit voice recorders.†
What do you think were the last words of many pilots?† ďO God.Ē†
†† They might have normally used that phrase as a swear wordó
†† but in that moment of death, it became a prayer.†
Almost everybody prays at one time or another.
†† So what sets Christian prayer apart from other kinds of prayer?
Hereís the answer:† Christians are those who pray ďOur Father in heaven.Ē
†† Thatís the dividing line.† Thatís what separates Christian prayer from the prayers
†† of all other religions and philosophies.† Our Father in heaven.†
Thatís what makes Christian prayer real, true, effective prayer.
But what does that mean?† Is it just a matter of saying those words?
†† Of course not.† Itís much more profound than that.
In verses 7 and 8 Jesus says:† Donít pray like the pagans.† Their prayer is babbling.†
†† They think they will be heard because of their many words.†
Then he says:† But your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
†† The Lordís point, which we saw in our study last Sunday,
†† is that there are two utterly different ways to approach God.
A pagan basis for approaching God and a Christian basis for approaching God.
Pagans think they will be heard because of their many words.
†† They think they will be heard because of what they do.†
†† Because of their performance.†
Jesus says:† Donít be like them.† Donít be a Christian praying like a pagan.
†† You can go to church and pray up a storm.†
†† You can even recite the Lordís Prayer and say the words:
But those things alone donít make a Christian prayer.
†† Itís not a matter of mechanics, itís a matter of your heart.
Jesus makes that point by saying next:†
†† Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
†† Thatís the key.† Thatís the difference between Christian and pagan prayer.
Pagans think they will be heard because of what they say and do.
†† Christians believe they will be heard for another reason entirely.
†† They believe they will be heard because they have a Father in heaven.
And itís understanding the Christian basis for approaching God,
†† and working it out in your mind and heart that makes all the difference.
Hereís the question you have to answer in your own heart:
†† Why do you think God hears your prayers?
†† Or we could ask it this way:† Whatís the basis for approaching God?
The answer is found in those words of Christ:† Our Father in heaven.
†† Letís study them under two points.
†† 1.† You must understand the true basis of prayer
†† 2.† You must apply the true basis of prayer
Credit where credit is due:† Sermon by Dr. Timothy Keller.
MP#1† Understanding the true basis of prayer
†† You must understand the basis on which we approach God.
As Iíve said, in verses 7 and 8, Jesus is contrasts pagan and Christian prayer,
†† to show us that there are only two basic ways to approach God.†
†† And these are the same two basic ways we deal with each other.†
Can approach people on the basis of a business relationship or a family relationship.
†† Now, there are certainly combinations of the twoóthere is a spectrum.
†† But in all relationships there are these two basics ways of dealing with people.
In a business relationship the basis is:† I have something for you.
†† In a family relationship the basis is:† I am something to you.
A business relationship is all about performance.† ††
†† You perform for me and Iíll perform for you.
In a family relationship the about your status.
In a business relationship if I perform, then Iím accepted.
†† In a family relationship, because Iím already accepted, I perform.†
Tim Keller has a great example of this:†
†† There are two different ways you could live in a personís house.
†† You could live there as a renter or as family.†
If you are a renter, the owner is your landlord.
†† You can have a good relationship with him as long as you pay rent.
†† As long as you respect property and keep the tenant rules.
†† And the landlord has rules he has to keepómaintenance and so on.
Whatís the basis for the relationship? †Itís business.†
†† The interchange of goods and services.
I was talking to someone in the church once about his experience as a landlord
†† with rental property.† He said whatís hard is when the tenant starts to tell you
†† about his or her life and problems.†
Because when you listen to them, it changes the relationship.†
†† You canít help becoming emotionally involved.†
When that happens, itís much harder to pressure for rent or evict.
†† He said, If youíre going to be a successful landlord financially speaking,
†† must keep the relationship strictly business.†
Strictly a matter of performance.† Strictly goods and services.
Thatís one way you can live in a houseóas a renter.†
†† Or you can live as family.† You can live in the home of your parents as a child.
And in that home there are still expectations, there are still rules to keep.
†† You are still expected to respect the propertyóbut whatís the difference?
†† Your relationship is not based on your performance, itís based on your status.†
Jesus says that you can approach God in these two waysó
You can pray like the pagan,
†† coming to God on the basis of the performance of your prayers,
Or you can pray as Jesus teaches,
†† and come to God on the basis of your status as his child.
So when Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, he doesnít say:†
†† Pray this way:† Our King in heaven.† Even though he is our King.
†† Or, Our Creator.† Even though he is that too.
He doesnít even say:† Pray, Our Friend.
†† Because friendship, as good as it is, is based in part on performance.
†† Friendships can be lost.† They can be broken.
He says:† Pray, Our Father.† Because that expresses a relationship
†† and an approach to God that is based not on what I do, but who I am.
This is much bigger than prayer.
†† Understanding the Fatherhood of God and your status
†† as an adopted son or daughter is the essence of being a Christian.†
John 1:12 says:†
†† Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name,
†† he gave the right to become children of God.
What does it mean to be a Christian?†
†† It means that through Christ you are adopted into the family of God
†† and have access to all the rights and privileges of his sons and daughters.
Think about adoption, and what an incredible picture it is of salvation.
Adoption is not a result of the childís effort, itís an act of the father.
†† In fact, often the child does not even know about it or seek it.
And adoption does not change the childís nature or behavioró
†† at least not right away. †
When you adopt a child, if that child is unruly, your love and discipline
†† will eventually have an effect.† There will be behavior changeó
†† but not at first.† It takes time, maybe a lifetime.
But what changes the instant you adopt a child?† His status.
†† There is a legal change that happens at the moment of adoption.
†† This child is no longer someone who can be sent away if he misbehavesó
†† heís now a part of the family whether he behaves or not.
In adoption the father says:† I promise, I have legally bound myself to regard you
†† with all the commitment, love, and acceptance that I would give my natural child.
Now for the incredible part.† In John 17, Jesus is praying to his Father in heaven
†† and he says this:† ď(You) have loved them even as you have loved me.Ē
Let that sink in for a minute.† Ponder what those two words ďeven asĒ mean.
†† Think how much God the Father loves God the Son.
†† Think of God the Fatherís eternal love for the Son in the perfect union of Trinity.
†† Think of God the Fatherís love for his Son when he took on human flesh.
†† Think of those words of love and commendation spoken by the Father at Christís
†† baptism:† This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.
†† You have loved them, your adopted sons/daughters, even as you have loved me.
When you become a Christian God the Father says:
I promise, I have legally bound myself to regard you with all the commitment,
†† love, and acceptance that I have for my only begotten Son Jesus Christ.†
By legal declaration you have crossed over from being no person to being
†† some person, from being no oneís child, to being my child.
Do you understand that?
One way you can tell is your response to unanswered prayer.
†† If you have a business relationship with God, youíll be indignant or anxious.
Youíll say:† God, Iíve been paying the rent here and I deserve this from you.
†† God, youíre not coming through on your end of the bargain.† Indignant.
Or youíll be anxious and guilty.† No wonder God didnít answer my prayer.
†† I havenít paid my rent.† I havenít held up my end of the bargain.†
In either case, youíre acting like a renter not a child.
†† And your approach to God in prayer is business not family.
†† Itís based on your performance and his performance.
Not on your status as an adopted child of God.
Do you understand that?† If so, then we can move on to the second point.
MP#2† Applying the true basis of prayer
Letís see how this changes our prayer.†
When Jesus says, Pray, Our Father in heavenó
†† Itís not a throwaway line.† Itís not just religious talk.† Itís intensely practical.
Heís saying that when you pray, you have to start with the doctrine of adoption.†
†† You have to saturate yourself with the fact that youíve been adopted,
†† not by your action but by Godís action.
He is as committed to you as he is to his only begotten Son.†
So you begin to pray by rejoicing in Godís fatherhood.
†† You begin by looking at yourself and the world and your circumstances
†† in the greater context of your adoption.
Every time you pray you have to get that doctrine out and preach it to yourself.
†† Every time you pray you have to rejoice in your status as a child of God.
Thatís the fuel for your prayer.†
†† Thatís what enables you to see the throne of the universe as the throne of grace.†
†† Thatís the source of your confidenceóyour adoption as a son.
When you get a hold of that, it changes the way you pray.
As we work our way through the Lordís Prayer, you will see that each
†† line of the Lordís Prayer is a different element of prayer,
†† or might even say a different kind of prayer.
ďHallowed be your nameĒ† What kind of prayer is that?† Itís praise.
ďGive us this day our daily breadĒ †Thatís petition.
ďForgive us our debtsĒ† Thatís confession.
ďThy will be doneĒ† Thatís submission.
Weíll spend time in coming weeks looking at each one in more detail.
†† But what you need to see today is that knowing the doctrine of adoption,
†† and your own adoption, and applying it to prayer enables you to praise and
†† confess and petition and submit rightly.†
Letís work this out in a few specifics.
Weíll start with praise.† Hallowed be your name.
When you know that God is your Father and that you are his adopted son or
†† daughter, it fills you with gratitude and wonder and enables you to praise.†
In the Apostle Johnís first letter, chapter 3, verse 1 he says:†
†† How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God!
Behold!† the King Jamesí version translates it.† ďBehold what manner of love the
†† Father has given unto us that we should be called the sons of God.Ē
As a Christian you can look at yourself and say:† Behold!† How great!
†† This is amazing. †God has chosen me. †Heís adopted me into his family.
†† When that sinks in, everything God gives you, big and small, is amazing
†† and reason to praise him because it comes to you so undeserved.
I walked over to a neighborís house yesterday to see his new swimming pool.
†† This man is a dear Christian.† And he once told me how he was a teenage drug
†† addict when a man shared the Gospel with him and he was converted.†
The reality of what he was and what he is now as a son of God is always with him.
†† Yesterday when I walked into his backyard, he made a sweeping gesture toward
†† the pool and said:† Brother, isnít God good!†
Praise is natural for him, because he rejoices in his sonship.
†† Heís always pointing to the Lord and his blessings and saying:† Behold!
†† If youíre a child of God and know it, then itís natural to praise.
But if youíre a renter, praise is unnatural.†
†† You can go to God with a list and spend time telling him your wants and needs.†
†† But you wonít be able to spend time praising and adoring him.
Thatís because Christians know that everything they have is a free giftó
†† renters believe theyíve been paying the rent.
When a performance oriented person gets an answer to prayer he says, of course.
†† Iím a moral person.† Iím a good person.†
†† He may be thankful that things have worked out, but thereís no wonder.†
Thereís no praise. †No Behold! Because this is simply how things ought to be.
†† But a Christian is amazed.† He looks at his life and at what God has done.
†† He looks at both the big things and the little things and at God himself
†† and says, this is incredible.† I didnít deserve any of this.†
Because a Christian not only knows heís a sinner,
†† He know that even his righteousness, his best performance is flawed,
†† so everything he has from God is a gift.†
Letís consider petition:†
How does knowing you are a child of God enable you to petition him rightly?
†† Jesus says:† We are to pray, Give us this day our daily bread.
Not weekly, not monthly, not annually, but daily.
†† And the point is that God expects his children to ask him persistently
†† for everything they need.† This is the point of many of Jesusí parables.
Think of the parable of the persistent widow, or the man knocking on
†† his neighborís door at night to get bread for an unexpected guest.
And look at many prayers in the Bible itself.
†† How persistent they are, even aggressive in requests to God.
†† We read Abrahamís prayer.† Lord, you wouldnít destroy the city for 50.
†† Donít be mad.† Iím going to ask again.† For 40, for 20 and so on.
Thereís Mosesí prayer after the Golden Calf, and how he pushed God to have
†† mercy on Israel and basically said, Lord, you promised.†
†† You canít destroy this people.† You must listen to my prayer.†
How can we pray that way and still pray rightly?† How can we bug God
†† for things we need even daily, without being rude or demanding.
†† Only as his children.
Who is the only person who dares wake up a king in the middle of the night
†† and say:† I want a glass of water?† Only his child.† From anybody else, it would be
†† unacceptable.† But itís natural and acceptable behavior for a little child
†† to persistently tell his father what he needs.†
Let me suggest that the only way that we can have the confidence to bug God,
†† and to do it rightly, is from the platform of our sonship.
And what about the times God says No to our sincerely, persistent petitions?
†† Thatís when Jesus tells us to pray:† ďYour will be done.Ē
And that can only be rightly prayed by person who knows heís a child of God.
A renter expects to understand his landlord.† Itís a business transaction.†
†† Everything is above board.† Itís a matter of leases and contracts.
But a child doesnít expect to understand his parents all the time.
†† Instead, children trust their parents.† They might get angry at mom or dad,
†† but deep down they know that whether itís yes or no, dad has their good in mind.†
Tim Keller says this about prayer:† God always gives you what you ask for,
†† Or he gives you what you would have asked for if you knew everything he knows.
Thatís only comforting if you know youíre a son.
If youíre a renter, you wonít ask confidently and persistently,
†† and you wonít trust God when he says no either.
You wonít be able to pray ďYour will be doneĒ unless you know him as Father.
CONC:† So how do you pray, like a pagan or a Christian?†
†† Like a renter or a child?†
†† On the basis of your performance or on the basis of your sonship?
The ability to pray rightly comes from Jesus Christ.
Itís often been pointed out that in every prayer Jesus prayed, every prayer of his
†† recorded in the New Testament, he addressed God as Father.
Every prayer but one.† Do you know which prayer that was?
†† It was his prayer from the cross:
†† ďMy God, my God, why have you forsaken me?Ē
Jesus lived the life we should have lived,
†† and he died the death we should have died.
Thatís how we should die, thatís how we deserve to die for our sins
†† and for our self-righteous performance, we ought to die justly forsaken by God.
But if you trust Christ, if you commit yourself to him,
†† then that death you deserve has already happened,
†† and you can be assured, that you will never be forsaken
†† because Jesus was forsaken in your place.
And because of that, you can come to God with confidence in prayeró
†† you can come with your praises and thanksgiving,
†† you can come with your petitions and requests,
†† you can even come when the way is blocked and the answer is noó
†† and trust him and submit.
Because you know that you have a Father in heaven,
†† and that you are his beloved child.