Matthew 6 – A Focus on the Lord’s Prayer
We would all agree that if there is one area where Christians all need encouragement it is with regard to prayer. Spurgeon said, “The common sin of God’s people is slackness in prayer.” He said, “If there is one sin that needs to be preached about more than any other it is the sin of omission in secret dealings with God.” None of us would argue with this, but how do we help ourselves in prayer? I think a good way to encourage us to pray is to frequently consider what Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer. We have probably heard this prayer a million times over, but there is a danger in familiarity – we can take it for granted and miss an awful lot.
If we look at the chapter as a whole, Jesus contrasts a wrong kind of praying, in verse7, with the right way to pray, starting in verse 9. (Read Matt 6:9 – 13). There are essentially two things we can derive from the Lord’s Prayer. We can boil it down to identity issues. Who is God? And who am I? Why do Christians pray differently from every other religion? It is because of our view of God and our view of man.
What do we learn about God? We could say an awful lot, but I will make this very simple. We learn essentially two things in this prayer: just like the simple prayer children are taught growing up, “God is great, God is good.” These two are taught here in Matthew 6.
#1:God is great. How do we know that from the Lord’s Prayer? “Our Father which art in Heaven” – He’s above us. The word heaven points to His transcendence. He is not a God who walks amongst us on earth; He’s a God in Heaven. We also see that God is great from the next petition, “Hallowed be Thy Name.” His holiness is a distinguishing attribute of God. He is perfectly holy.
#2: How do we know God is good? Again, we can argue from the above verses, He is a Father. A Father takes care of His children; it is a manifestation of His goodness.
What about ourselves can we learn from this prayer? I have three things.
#1: We are needy or dependent creatures. We see this in the petition, “Give us this day our daily bread.” We need daily bread. This shows how dependent we are on God. He made us, and we depend on Him.
#2: We are sinful. “Forgive us our debts,” which refers to our sins. We never want to forget that we are dependent sinners. But the good thing is this prayer reminds us that God forgives. This prayer would be rather depressing if we didn’t know He is a God who forgives. We should never take that for granted.
#3: We are a privileged, a redeemed people. We have been adopted into the family of God. “Behold what manner of love, that we should be called the sons of God.”
Knowing who God is and who we are should have a profound impact on the way we pray. If you were ignorant of God, if you didn’t know Him why would you go to Him? If you didn’t know He was loving, merciful, great – why pray? If you didn’t realize who you are – why pray? Prayer loses its urgency when we forget who God is and who we are.