How Should We Pray To God?October 1, 2018
It has well been said, “Nothing lies outside the reach of prayer but that which lies outside the will of God.”
Our greatest need is to learn how to pray. When we fail to pray, covering ourselves and our loved ones with the protective armor of God, we leave ourselves wide open, sitting ducks, to the devil’s attacks.
All can agree we’re in a battle. Much of what’s taking place…in our homes, in our nation, in churches nationwide, in international conflicts worldwide…is a battle royale where God’s people and His kingdom are engaged by a ruthless enemy. We must be people of prayer.
You wouldn’t leave your house in the morning and step out into the marketplace or office, naked and undressed. You wouldn’t dream of it. Yet how often we’re out there, spiritually naked, unprotected from the enemy—and our loved ones are the same because we have not been men and women of prayer.
Turn to Matthew 6:5. Let’s listen to the “Master Pray-er,” the Lord Jesus, as He tells us about prayer and how to pray to our Father God.
1. First He tells us what not to do and how not to be:
a. 5And when thou prayest, thou shalt ______ be as the _______________ are: for they love to pray _______________ in the synagogues and in the corners of the ____________ that they may be _________ of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
b. When Jesus says, “They have their reward,” what is He saying?
Though it’s called “The Lord’s Prayer,” it’s really “The Disciples’ Prayer” or “The model prayer.” Jesus gave it as the model for His disciples and all who would follow, down through the centuries, so we would know how to address The Lord in our prayers.
2. Then He tells us how we SHOULD pray:
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy ___________, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 7 But when ye pray, use not ______ ________ as the _____________ do: for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be ye not therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, ___________ ye ask Him. 9 After _____ ___________ therefore pray ye:
a. When Jesus says “after this manner, therefore pray,” what does He mean by “after this manner…”?
Then He gives us His method by which we should pray:
Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.”
This is not a prayer necessarily to be memorized and repeated by rote, though I hope you will memorize it. Prayer is not spouting memorized words. “Our Father which art in Heaven” is not a Christianized version of “Abra-cadabra…bibitty-bobbity-boo.” It’s not “Just say the right words and the magic happens.”
A CLOSER LOOK: SAYING OR PRAYING A PRAYER?
Sometimes we might be in a group of people—saved and unsaved alike—and someone might say, “Now let’s all stand and say the Lord’s Prayer.” Hmmmm. You don’t “say” a prayer, you pray a prayer. There’s a difference.
Suppose you and I are sitting in your living room and you say to me, “Say a conversation.” We don’t memorize a potential conversation, then recite it to a friend. No. Prayer is talking with God, not rattling off some phrases, even if they come from the Bible.
Now if the Lord’s Prayer/ the Model Prayer/ the Disciples’ Prayer meets the need of your heart and expresses the exact desire you feel in the moment, then pray those exact words. But Jesus didn’t say, “Pray this prayer.” Jesus said, “Pray in this manner. Pray in this way.” The Lord’s Prayer is to be a guide, a lesson in prayer.
3. See in verse 9 of Matt. 6 how the Lord Jesus tells us to begin our prayer. Jesus said:
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our ____________ which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name.”
Our study today, “How Should We Pray to God?” will help you understand what it means when we call Almighty God our Father.
We will look at three aspects of calling God our Father:
FIRST, WHEN WE SAY FATHER, WE EXPRESS HIS NATURE
It is the nature of God to be a Father.
Who is this God to whom we pray? Different people have called Him different things.
- Aristotle, the philosopher, called Him the Unmoved Mover.
- Aldous Huxley, the novelist, called Him the Eternal Unknown.
- In Star Wars, He’s The Force.
- To the irreverent, He’s “The Man Upstairs.”
But 167 times in the gospels alone, Jesus calls Him “Father.”
That means we can address the One to whom we pray as “Father.”
Verses confirming God as a Father are so numerous throughout the Bible, it would take up the rest of this study, so let’s look at only a few. Get your page–turning fingers warmed up as we look through a number of passages.
4. Turn to:
You, O LORD, are our__________, Our Redeemer from of old is Your name.
1 Corinthians 8:6
…yet for us there is but one God, the __________, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him
…Is not He your __________ who has bought you? He has made you and established you.
2 Corinthians 1:3
Blessed be the God and __________ of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
By now, you get the point, so no more filling in the blanks.
A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation.
But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.
Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us?
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"
1 John 1:3
What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.
Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
God in His very nature is a father. Human fatherhood is a reflection of divine fatherhood. Divine fatherhood is reflected in the love and care of a human father for his children.
A CLOSER LOOK: DISMANTLING GOD AS FATHER IN SOME CHURCHES
Some today do not want us to pray to God as Father or to think of Him as Father. Many call themselves Christians. Yet this is how God Himself identifies Himself to us—as our father.
There’s a move afoot today in some churches to erase the attribute of God as Father from the Bible, from our hymnals, and from the prayer life of the church.
Some church leaders have begun purging hymnals and liturgies of references to God as male. In some churches and denominations, we’ve fallen so far away from the clear teaching of Scripture, they criticize Christians who believe (they say) in a “patriarchal religion that says, ‘If God is male then male is God.’”
As preposterous as it is, a number of theologians have warned that, since language shapes reality, unless the church changes its imagery of God as father, it will effectively endorse gender and race bias! By insisting on God as Father, they say we who believe the divinely inspired Word of God risk deifying a mere word (“Father”), and commit the sin of idolatry. In other words, if you call God “Father,” they say that's idolatry. There’s a Greek word for that: baloney.
But they’re not done. Letty M. Russell, a professor of theology at Yale Divinity School, said that society's language has to change. "The way to respect the original words is to retranslate them, as the understanding of their meaning changes.” In other words, what we now think they mean is what they mean (not what God originally said), so the way you respect the original is to re-translate it!
I've never heard such double-speak as that. One of these “pastors” has encouraged her congregation to talk about how they picture God as a cloud, a formless spirit, Mother Earth, and so on.
Jesus our Lord said, “When you pray, begin "Our Father." When the Bible says “God is a father,” it doesn't mean God is like a father. This is not an analogy. God is a father. “Father” is not what God is like. It is what God is. When we say “our Father,” we are expressing His nature.
Now, we're not taking human attributes and trying to paste them onto our image of God. No, we don't first look at ourselves and say “God is like us.” That's not it. To repeat, divine fatherhood is not a reflection of human fatherhood, but vice versa. Human fatherhood is a reflection of divine fatherhood.
It's very important you understand this, because some of us have had cruel fathers. Some had harsh fathers. Some had weak-willed, passive fathers. Some had absent fathers who were never there for them. So we don't get our idea of God from human fatherhood. Just the opposite: we set the standard for human fatherhood by understanding what God is like. And what God is like is what every human father should understand and endeavor to be. We do not make God in our image; rather, we are to conform more and more to the image of God.
SECOND, WHEN WE SAY FATHER, WE EXPECT HIS NURTURE.
He has a responsibility to you. You can expect...
- His Care
- His Correction
- His Compassion
- His Companionship
- We express His nature.
- We expect His nurture.
- We exalt His name.
He is going to take care of us like a father takes care of his children, because we are His children. Now, we always talk about our duty to God, and indeed we have a duty to God. But have you ever thought about this?—God has a duty to you. He's not going to take a vacation to Acapulco and leave us alone. God is honor-bound. He has a responsibility to take care of His children. Before going further in this, we need to take a side trip and be sure we understand who are and who are not His children.
A CLOSER LOOK: WHO ARE TRULY GOD’S CHILDREN?
It may shock you to hear this, but God is not the Father of all people. Many people sentimentally believe He is. They use the phrase “the universal fatherhood of God and universal brotherhood of men.” But God in a spiritual sense is only the father of those who've been born into God's family.
You say, "No, God is the Creator of all, and therefore God is the Father of all." No. God created rats, roaches, buzzards and rattlesnakes. He's not their Father. He is their Creator. God is the father of those who are born into His family. Remember what Jesus said in John 1:12.
"He [Jesus] came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He the power to become the sons of God."
His “own” didn’t receive Him. So why were certain other people eligible to “become the sons of God”? What did they do, according to this verse?
On the other hand, turn to John 8:44. Jesus is speaking to the unsaved religious leaders of his day. Look at what He said:
You are of your father the devil, and the lust of your father you will do.
So not everyone, by a long stretch, is a child of God.
5. Okay—not every person on earth is a child of God. This begs the question: How do you become a child of God?
a. Turn to Galatians 3:26, where the apostle Paul tells us. It’s clear and plain:
"For ye are all the children of _____ by _______ in _______ _______."
b. How does God become your father?
It’s not due to the fact that He is the Creator and you were created. Not by creation, but by conception—when you're conceived of the Holy Spirit of God. When you are twice born, you're born into the family of God.
6. Now turn to Matthew 6:26. Because you're His children you have His care.
“And behold the fowls of the air for they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather in the barns, yet ______ heavenly __________ feedeth them [not their heavenly father, but your heavenly father]. Are ye not much better than they?"
Here's the logic of our Lord. He's saying, “What farmer would feed his chickens and neglect his children?” He's saying, “Look ,you're My children. You're better than animals. You are of more value to Me than the birds of the field.” There's a distinct, intrinsic difference between animals and human beings. You are a child of God. You're not a beggar. God has a responsibility to you. You have the Father's care.
In addition, you can also expect…
7. Turn to Proverbs 3:11-12.
My son, do not reject the ______________ of the LORD Or loathe His ___________, For whom the LORD loves, He reproves, even as a __________ corrects the son in whom he delights.
Not only do we have the Father's care, we have the Father's correction. God is not a “doting” father. He’s a father who demands and commands respect of His children and tells us that when we're wrong, He's going to correct us.
8. Turn to Hebrews 12: 6-7. Read this description of how the Lord deals with us.
6 For whom the Lord ________, He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.
7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with ________; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?”
If you are a parent, you know this is true because you’ve experienced it with your own children.
The fact that the Father chastises me doesn't mean He doesn't love me. It means that He does love me. God loves me too much to let me live in sin.
You love your children too much to let them do things you know will harm them in the long run.
When we say “Father,” because we’re His child, we have His care. He wouldn't feed His chickens and neglect His children. Because I say “Father,” I have His correction. He loves me and deals with me lovingly. When He does have to discipline me, it doesn't mean He doesn't love me.
A little boy is out in the yard, playing in the mud, and he's covered with it. His father sees him. The father may go out in the yard and wash him off with some water before he lets him come in the house. It's not the little boy the father's rejecting. It's the mud and dirt. When God corrects us, He’s not rejecting us. It’s the sin in our life He’s rejecting.
When we say “Father,” we have His compassion.
9. Turn to Luke 12:21
Just as a ___________ has __________________ on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
10. Turn to Matthew 6:8
"Be not therefore like unto them [the heathen] for your Father ____________ what __________ you ______ ______ of ___________ you ask Him."
When you say “Father,” He is a father who compassionately wants to meet your needs.
11. Turn to Matthew 7:11
"If _____ then, being ______, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much _______ will your ___________ who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
12. Turn to Psalm 103:13
Like as a father __________ his children, so the Lord __________ them that fear Him.
13. Turn to Lamentations 3:21-23. You’ll find it right after the book of Jeremiah, and most scholars believe Jeremiah wrote it. It’s a book of 5 poems, and it reflects Jeremiah’s weeping and lamenting over the destruction of Jerusalem.
But even in the midst of destruction, Jeremiah could say,
21 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I _______.
22 It is of the Lord's __________ that we are not consumed, because His ________________fail not.
23 They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.
a. What two things about the Lord do you see that were the basis for Jeremiah to have hope?
When we say "Our Father," we're talking about one whose compassions fail not.
14. Turn to Ephesians 1:3.
Blessed be the God and ___________ of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has ___________ us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Chris:
When we say "Our Father" we express His nurture: We have His care. We have His compassion. And we have...
Have you ever thought about the relationship fathers and their children are supposed to have?
I read one time about a man who was a bookkeeper long before the days of computers. He took special pride in his ledgers. He had every entry just right. His office was in his home, and the children knew not to come in or disturb him while he was working. One afternoon just as he was making an entry in the ledger, his little 4 year old boy threw open the door, ran full speed into the room, took a leap, and jumped into his daddy's lap, hitting his daddy’s arm. The ink pen flew out of his hand and spots of ink ruined the whole page.
Exasperated, the father said, “Son, haven't I told you not to come in here when I'm working? Look at what you've done. You've ruined the whole page!”
The little boy's chin started to quiver. Tears welled up in his eyes.
“I'm sorry, Daddy. I just wanted to sit in your lap and rub your beard.”
When he said that, it broke the father's heart. He realized what a mistake he'd made, throwing off the love of that little child.
He said, “Son, I'm sorry. Daddy's sorry. These books are not that important.”
He closed the ledger, put his pen aside, took that little fellow up and hugged him close. Then they went out and walked a while and talked about things fathers and sons talk about.
When I read that, I said, “I'm so glad my heavenly Father isn’t so busy flinging out the sun, moon and stars, running this mighty universe, that He doesn’t have time to speak to me. Every time I say "Our Father," He's ready to listen.
Like most of you, I’m busy, and sometimes I dread the phone ringing, especially when I'm right in the middle of something and facing a deadline. My phone rings and I really don't want to pick it up, but I know I must.
Now, I have several names I’m called: One is “Adrian.” One is “Pastor.” But one of them is “Daddy.” When I pick up that phone and the voice on the other end says “Daddy” or “Papa,” right away I'm ready to talk! You see, a child or a grandchild has an entry into my schedule that nobody else has.
That's what our Lord is saying. When we say “Father,” we come in the relationship between a child and his parent. We have His companionship.
Corrie Ten Boom said it so well: “When you pray, don't wrestle. Nestle.” Just come to God as a Father.
15. With that in mind, turn to 2 Peter 1:3.
Blessed be the God and___________ of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His _________ _________ has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead
a. Thank God for His great mercy, His compassions, which are new for us every morning. Because of His great mercy, what has He given to us?
THIRD, WHEN WE SAY FATHER, WE EXALT HIS NAME.
When you pray saying “Father,”
- First, you express His nature. He is a father.
- Second, you expect His nurture. He has a responsibility to you.
- Third, you exalt His name.
16. Turn to Romans 15:6
so that with one accord you may with one voice __________ the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
17. Looking once again at the Lord’s Prayer, verse 9, what is the missing word here?
"Our Father, which art in heaven, _____________ be thy name."
It means to speak with reverence. You must recognize, reverence, and rely on His name.
When Jesus said “hallowed be Thy name,” what name was He talking about? Now this may surprise you, but do you know what the greatest name of the ages is? Do you know the one name above all names that is supreme? Let’s find out:
18. Turn to John 17:6. Jesus is speaking here:
___ have manifested ____ _____________ unto the men which Thou gavest Me…”
“Manifested” here means “I [Jesus] have revealed Your very Self, made Your name known, revealed Your name.
19. Now pair it with Philippians 2:9-11 and see what Scripture says about this in one of the most beautifully passages in the Bible, exalting the Lord Jesus for who He is and what He’s done for us.
"9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him [Jesus], and given Him a ________which is above every ________: 10 That at the name of Jesus _________ knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is _______, to the glory of God the Father.
a. We confess what?
b. Who, by that confession, is glorified?
No name is above the name of Jesus. And when Jesus said “Hallowed be Thy name,” He was interjecting Himself here into this. When you pray, you come in the name of Jesus. You come through the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to recognize the name, reverence the name, rely upon the name.
20. Turn to John 14:13. Jesus said,
And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
a. You ask in __________’s name.
b. According to this verse, the result will be _______________________________.
When we say "Our Father”—
- We express His nature.
- We expect His nurture.
- We exalt His name.
This is how our prayer begins, just talking to God as a father.