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Oct 24 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

October 22, 2017 – Matthew 6:9-15

“Take Words With You and Return To the Lord”

Pray, then, in this way:
Our Father who is in heaven

Hallowed be Your name. Matthew 6:9

Intro: We learned in Matthew 5:20 that Jesus requires a superior righteousness

His teaching is now focused on how that works in everyday life
– it involves a deepening of the inner life and then fusing it with outward behavior
• a summary of Jesus’ message could be Paul’s statement:

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men (Col. 3:23)

• everything in our hearts and actions is concentrated on God
– the first part of chapter six consists in three negative examples
• they illustrate how we are not to practice our righteousness
◦ how not to give charity, how not to pray and how not to fast
◦ each example includes an illustration of the superior way to give, pray and fast
• with the example of prayer, Jesus’ breaks the pattern and adds two extras:
◦ do not pile up words like those who do not know God
◦ adopt the simplicity and directness of the words he provides

The Lord’s prayer (aka: the Our Father) can be prayed anywhere

Helmut Thielicke, “It can be spoken at the cradle and the grave. It can rise from the altars of great cathedrals and from the dark hovels of those who “eat their bread with tears.” It can be prayed at weddings and on the gallows. And the fact is that it has been prayed in all these places. All seven of the colors of our life are contained in it, and so never is there a time when we are left alone.”

– we need to learn some things to properly interpret this prayer
• however, I do not want to leave you with information so much as an impression
• that we feel this prayer and the way it moves in us as we pray through it
◦ this is more important than what we learn about its interpretation

V. 9, First, make the connection (to begin the conversation)

Imagine calling your parents and when one of them answers, you being, “Hi Mom”
– because she recognizes your voice, the conversation can begin
• that you know each other and share a host of memories deepens the communication
◦ our connection with God is prayer, not the words
(they are the contents of our thoughts in prayer)
◦ do I have a here-and-now awareness of God?
• I’ve found that burning a lot of mental energy striving for this awareness is not helpful
◦ it’s like trying to force myself to fall asleep
– however, if I relax my body, my mind relaxes too
• then I am not trying to make God present, but I allow him to be present
• similar to the way I allow myself to fall asleep

Jesus tells us to address God as our Father
– it should not be said of us, You worship what you do not know (Jn. 4:22)
• rather, like Paul, we can say, I know whom I have believed (2 Tim. 1:12)
◦ from the first words, our prayer is personal and intimate
• we are to own him – he is our Father
– the opening Our reminds us that God has other children
• we share him with all these brothers and sisters
◦ God does not want them to ever be out of our thoughts
• as we’ve seen before, Father who is in heaven distinguishes him from every other father

Insight into the background of the third line is helpful

Hallowed be Your name
– hallowed is “to make holy” or treat something as holy or with reverence
• how do we show reverence for God’s name? And why do we pray that it will be reverenced?
◦ does this mean we don’t say God in a string of profanities?
◦ that we never type OMG in our emails or social media sites?
– in the Bible, “name” is never merely word by which a person is known
• the name is one with the person’s identity — the name defines him or her

Walther Eichrodt, For ancient Israel “the name is not merely a means of denoting a person, but is bound up in the closest possible way with that person’s very existence, so that it can become in fact a kind of alter ego. Hence knowledge of the name is more than an external means of distinguishing one person from another; it is a relation with that person’s being.”

He adds that God’s name was used as “an interchangeable term for Yahweh himself and as a symbol summing up his activity in revelation.” Whenever Yahweh’s name was spoken, he himself was present, “. . . this transcendent God had revealed himself in his Name, in order to assure men of the reality of their [interaction] with him.”

Many passages “designate the Name of Yahweh as the medium of his operation . . . for example, the prayer: ‘Save me, O God, by thy name, and vindicate me by thy might!’” (Ps. 54:3) The people of Israel were vividly “aware that in the Name of the covenant God they encountered him in person and experienced his activity.”

So, when we come to “Name” in scripture, let’s think “person”
– for example, we are told to pray in Jesus’ name
• this does not mean that we say the words, “In Jesus’ name. Amen”
• but that we pray in the fullness of his person as revealed in his life, death and resurrection
– some believers think we’re supposed to use the specific words
• they also believe that it is a compromise to not say those words in public prayer
◦ the words become like a magical formula: “In Jesus’ name, abracadabra, Amen!”
• that isn’t praying in Jesus’ name
◦ we connect with God through the person of Jesus Christ
◦ Jesus’ whole life was to reveal God – how does he say this? what expression does he use?

I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me . . . . I have made Your name known to them (Jn. 17:6 & 26)

We have seen that our connection with the Father is intimate
– now we see it is also reverent
• reading through the Bible, we frequently come to the word fear
◦ it is an essential trait of faith and the “beginning of wisdom”

Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul . . . . (Deut. 10:12)

• we can never remove this ingredient from the recipe of reverence
◦ reverential awe and fear are normal human responses to God’s magnitude

Our first request is that God would be revered

The next two requests are related to the first (a threefold petition)

Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven 
(v. 10)

How all three requests fit together is clearer in the Greek
• each line begins with an introduction to the request:
Let be revered the name
Let come the kingdom
Let be done the will
• and each ends with a noun followed by a possessive pronoun:
the name of You (Yours)
the kingdom of You
the will of You
– I think Jesus meant for us to see how these work together
• where God’s name is revered, his kingdom has come and his will is being done
◦ where God’s kingdom has come, his name is revered, etc.
◦ we can enter any one of the three doors and come to the same place
– whenever I pray this, I feel my soul open to God
• what I pray for the world, I pray first for myself – “Let be in me
◦ we are praying, “make the earth like heaven”
• God’s kingdom will come, but it comes first to our own hearts
◦ it is like we are praying, “Create the future today in us”

This week I’ve been reading in the Book of Revelation
– came to the passage where the announcement is made,

The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever (Rev. 11:15)

• then God is praised because he’s taken over governing the world
• I understand the joy over the final collapse of all human rule
◦ whether governments, corporations, religious institutions and even families
◦ any system in which the strong oppress the weak,
◦ the wealthy exploit the poor, the clever cheat the simple
– a world where God’s will unfolds in every human heart
• where his love is present in every human interaction
• this is the direction that our prayers take

Verses 11-13 take a definite turn

Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen]

We can see why the Our Father has been compared to 10 commandment
– in both, the first part has to do with God’s concerns (and specifically his name)
• the second half has to do with our concerns
• of You (Your) in the first part becomes of us (our) in the second
– one of our concerns is “our daily bread”
• does Jesus really expect us to pray for something so earthly? 
◦ well, what is always on our minds? what are our anxieties?

As Helmut Thielicke said, “… perhaps 90 percent of our lives consists in trivialities.”

• Jesus does not tell us, “Don’t waste God’s time with little things”
◦ or, “Focus your prayers only on what matters most”

O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer. (Joseph Scriven)

• if we did this with everything, our whole day would be prayer
◦ and all the little things would become sacred,
◦ stair steps into God’s abiding presence

And forgive . . . why is receiving forgiveness tied to forgiving?
– what I do not forgive stays with me; diminishes me
• forgiveness changes my situation with God, and that changes me
◦ if I do not forgive, it is as if my situation with God has not changed
• if there’s no room in my heart to forgive, no room to rec
◦ forgiveness is a river, not a reservoir

I say this frequently and will never stop reminding you
– if there is someone you absolutely cannot forgive or do not even want to forgive
• bring that impossibility to God — hold it in his presence
• he does not demand the impossible
◦ but he will work with us to overcome our impossibilities

And do not lead us into temptation
– a temptation can come as a seduction to do wrong or as a test
• the test is like “trial run” to measure our strength, endurance, or whatever else

deliver us from evil 
– “evil” in scripture is not always moral or spiritual
• it also refers to any kind of trouble or hardship
• since the Greek says “the evil,” some translate this the evil one 
◦ that would be the one who tempts us to do evil
◦ and the one who causes trouble (as Satan did with Job)

Conclusion: The most important thing for us to remember about this prayer

It was the Lord Jesus who gave it to us
– Jesus, who knows hunger and thirst;
• who struggled with Father’s will, then surrendered to it fully
• Jesus who was tempted by, and delivered from the evil one
◦ and who then became the great Deliverer

Please, for the next week
pray this prayer every day,

Finally, from my favorite twentieth century saint
(though she had not been formally recognized as such):

Simone Weil, Last summer, I went through the Our Father word for word in the Greek. The infinite sweetness of this Greek text so took hold of me that for several days I could not stop myself from saying it over all the time. Since that time I have made a practice of saying it through once each morning with absolute attention.
The effect of this practice is extraordinary and surprises me every time, for although I experience it each day, it exceeds my expectation at each recitation.
Sometimes, also during this recitation or at other moments, Christ is present with me in person, but his presence is infinitely more real, more moving, more clear than on that first occasion when he took possession of me.”

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