Lord, teach us to pray 1

Matt 6:5-15 “And 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 be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“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.’

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Prayer is not mysterious. Prayer is a conversation, as with a friend.

And yet, prayer is very mysterious. It is a conversation with the creator of the universe. What power! But what intimacy and tender loving care!

Prayer changes things, unlike worrying, which does nothing positive. Praying is trusting God to act. Trusting God to act in our best interest, which includes his saying no to some of our requests. Praying opens up time and space for God to reveal his will to us, to guide us, to love us. I find in hindsight, sometimes I’m glad I didn’t get what I asked for, that God in his wisdom (greater than mine!) said no.

Paul wrote to the Philippians 4:6-7 Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks. And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

God is always available, always cares, and always listens. God delights in his creation, in you. God cherishes time spent with you. God is generous and gives what you need. If he doesn’t give you the million dollars you asked for, it’s because you don’t need them!

We tell God our requests. We remember that he cares. We know he is powerful. We thank him for his faithfulness.

Today, we will read from the Gospel written by Matthew. Jesus preached a massive sermon – it covers chapters 5,6 & 7 in Matthew. It is commonly referred as the Sermon on the Mount. Today’s bit comes from chapter 6 – the middle of the sermon.

Jesus opposes 2 kinds of prayers – those who stand on street corners for show and those who babble on endlessly. We can view the Lord’s Prayer as given words to pray – the Jewish people in Jesus’ day recited prayers all the time. There’s nothing wrong with that and a good deal right, as long as we don’t say the words mindlessly, which is the danger in memorizing prayers.  Then it becomes babble. But if we recite the Lord’s Prayer as prayer, when we want those things we pray – the coming of the kingdom, and our daily bread – then it is helpful in learning how to pray. It is a good model.

God knows what we need before we pray. God doesn’t know what we will say, but he knows our needs! Not what we think we need. God has a different perspective on our needs than we do, a larger, infinite and wiser perspective.

Today’s little section to be explored: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Our – means we live in community, we are not first and foremost individuals in God’s eyes

Father – indicates a family relationship; we are sons and daughters through Jesus, who is Son of God. Abba; Daddy. To call God “Father” in prayer is to receive God’s love, to know his power and to seek to embody his will.

In heaven – the German words for heaven and sky are the same. So it was in Jesus’ day. Heaven wasn’t a place far away. Heaven is here, now, God is in us, among us, as well as everywhere else. That is still where heaven is today.

Hallowed be – make holy, be honoured, be glorified, be sanctified, be made real

Your name – back in Jesus’ days, without police checks, internet, or record keeping, one’s name is one’s reputation, one’s character. It is who God is: Yahweh.

In this statement, “Hallowed be your name,” Jesus is asking God to make his name holy. We do not – we cannot! In praying this, we are asking God to keep up his reputation of being loving and righteous. We are asking God to be and act in ways that bring honour and glory to himself. (ex. Ezek 36:22 “Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone.”)

Who do we want to rule over us? God who is good and loves us? Or something less perfect?

Jesus’ name in Hebrew is Joshua, or Y’shua, meaning “Yahweh saves.” In everything Jesus does, the saving character of God is revealed. It is the deepest passion of Jesus to reveal the nature and character of God. This is why Jesus died on the cross. John 12:27-28 Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!

Jesus is God, God is Jesus. When Jesus died on the cross, God died. God died for your sins. God took them away from you and paid the price so justice was served. Death separates the sin from the sinner.

In “The Shack,” the father, Mack, was willing to stand in for his children so they would not have to go to hell. That is what God did for everyone. As Christians, we believe this and we accept this gift and rejoice!

…and his name shall be called Emmanuel, God with us.” Jesus is now with us always, in our hearts, in our lives, everywhere. Jesus is God’s gift to humanity, when we accept this gift, it is ours to keep. This is the choice to make.