Prayer for the Jew was part of who they were. Blessings, benedictions, petitions and doxologies weaved throughout their whole lives as communities and in their homes. So it is not strange at all that Jesus would focus on prayer. After challenging how the hypocrites had abused prayer he teaches them how they should pray.
Is this in itself a teaching Jesus was giving? Over the next few days we will indeed dissect it, dwell on it and hopefully discover some things.
Is this a model for us to use in our services together? If it is then it has disappeared from many churches and needs a reintroduction.
“‘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.” (Matthew’s version)
However Jesus meant for it to be used we can assume he created the prayer and that he was familiar with praying it and maybe that is all we need to know to make it part of our lives.
“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6 v 9)
The incredible blessing for every Christian today is that they can address God as Father. This personal, intimate, familiar title is given only because of relationship.
No one before Jesus called God this name.
No one after Jesus calls God, Father, except the followers of Jesus.
‘Our’ Father brings us together in community. We are His children.
Hallowed be your name.
When the Jewish scribes write a name or title for God they immediately go and wash their hands, such is the honour they attribute to it. In fact they avoid pronouncing the name God and use names like Yahweh instead, this is the way they choose to hallow the name.
Father, let your name be holy, sacred.
Let people across the world believe in you. Let them obey you. Let them glorify you. This is the desire of God. Jesus shows his disciples that they should begin to pray in line with that desire.
The Jewish history is of course one of being controlled by foreign powers and living in exile among nations not worshipping Yahweh. God raised up prophets to stir His people and to realise that His name would be hallowed. Ezekiel wrote, “I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.” (36:23)
This promise of God to His people is that of redemption through Jesus. Isaiah carried that same promise: “When they see among them their children, the work of my hands, they will keep my name holy; they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.” (29:23)
We are living in times when people are fashioning God into their own image of what they believe God to be, so that they can be who they want to be. They believe in God, they have faith, but perhaps not the God of the Bible.
And before we roll our eyes and point the finger at this group and the next for creating their own version of God, even ‘Bible-believing’ Christians need to be careful. If our prayer life is about us then we will not receive. If we want our Churches to grow bigger than the Church on the opposite side of the road then we will not receive. If we want promotion so that we can get a bigger car, a more luxurious house to live in, more comfort in this life then we will not receive. Yes, pray for provision and Jesus instructs us to do so. But first fall into line. Make your words aligned to the glory, the honour, the hallowing of His Name. Not my will but yours be done.
When people look at us, the Church community, the ‘our’, do they see people glorifying God? That is the point.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.