In the greatest sermon ever preached, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught His disciples not what to pray, but how to pray.
“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. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:9-13
This prayer isn’t simply to be repeated. It is a model to follow. We can learn from each of the elements of this prayer. It is a very simple prayer that outlines with an address to God as Father and then six petitions, three of which are directed toward God and three toward human needs.
Think first about the address to God.
What is Jesus teaching us by addressing God as Father? It makes sense that Jesus would call God Father since Jesus, unlike anyone else, is God’s one and only begotten Son (John 3:16). However, He is telling His disciples (that is us, if we have placed our faith in Jesus death and resurrection for our salvation) to call God Father in prayer. Jesus demonstrates the relational nature of prayer by telling us to address God as Father.
What does it mean that we get to call the almighty maker of heaven and earth Father?
1. Our Father Knows Our Needs
As a Father I am often expected to know the needs of my children. My wife and I have four daughters. It would be so much easier if they all clearly told me what they need. However, and unfortunately for me, they often expect me to just know what they need. To know what is wrong when they cry, to know when to bring flowers home from work, to know when they need to sit and have a long talk… the truth is, as hard as I try, I often just don’t know.
But God always knows what you need. He is a perfect Father. In the verse immediately preceding the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus tells us that God knows our needs before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8). So, why do we ask? He wants to commune with us over our needs. He doesn’t need an update on what is happening in your life but He does want to connect with you about what’s happening in your life. Don’t merely read Him a list of requests. Connect.
2. Our Father is Accessible
Unlike an earthly Father, God is holy. He is the Lord God almighty, He dwells in unapproachable light. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He is all these things and still He is available and accessible to you anytime of any day or night. In fact, we are to approach His throne with boldness because it is a throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16).
3. Our Father Can Be Trusted
Trust is built over time. The better you know someone, the more you realize whether or not you can depend on them. If someone always does what they say, you become more and more confident that they will keep their word and their commitments. If someone repeatedly fails, you realize they are not worthy of trust.
God has never broken a promise. He has existed since before time and He cannot lie (Hebrews 6:8). He always keeps His promises. That means, unlike any good or bad earthly Father, God can be trusted.
Our prayer lives reveal how much we trust God. If we rarely or never pray, that is a sign that we don’t really trust God. Prayer is a sign of dependence. We turn to what we depend on in a time of need. For some that means ourselves, our talents, our bank accounts, or our friends. But the follower of Jesus Christ should turn to the trusted Heavenly Father. Do you turn to the one you trust? You can trust your Heavenly Father. He never fails.
4. Our Father Loves Us
The very fact that we can call God Father is a demonstration of His love. It is mind-blowing to consider that He is telling us to call God Father, considering that we were children of wrath. That sounds like harsh language. Aren’t we all children of God? No. The Bible tells us that before placing our trust in Jesus Christ for our salvation that we were children of wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3; John 8:44). So, what happened? He adopted us into His family (Ephesians 1:5-6). He did this as a demonstration of His own love for us (1 John 3:1; Romans 5:8; John 1:12).
Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Galatians 4:6
When you pray, you have the wonderful privilege of calling the almighty maker of heaven and earth your Father.
So when you pray, this is how you should pray: Our Father…