In Mathew 6:9, we have the record of the Lord’s prayer, and that’s how it is commonly known, and really all the Bible has given for inspiration, and encouragement and warning and admonition and so on, but there are perhaps some special chapters in Mathew 5-7 where Jesus lays down the foundation teachings, the Constitution of the Kingdom of Heaven, and right in the middle of this constitution is what is known as the Lord’s prayer. We understand how fateful prayer is in the life of God’s people, and so in Luke 11 the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Teach us to pray,” as John also taught his disciples to pray. So, it seems they saw something in the life of John’s disciples that they wanted for themselves and so they came to Jesus and said, “Teach us to pray.” We have His response as the shorter version of what we have in Mathew 6:9. So, they said, “Teach us to pray”… what to pray and how to pray, like what to say when we pray, and our attitude and spirit. In this prayer, Jesus addresses both of those questions.
In the Old Testament, the focus was on what people did or didn’t do. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not be a false witness, etc. The focus was on what they did, but in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Heaven in Mathew 5-7, the focus was not on what we did, do or didn’t do, but on what we are, like you can’t do for in spirit, but you can be for in spirit. You can’t do merciful, but you can be merciful. That’s not the reason why it’s just the expression, but it’s nice to think of them as to be “attitudes.” So it is our attitude, our spirit rather than what we do and don’t do. So, in Mathew 6:4,6,18, we read the same thing. It says, “Your Father which seeth in secret.” In verse 6, it speaks about prayer and it sayeth, “Your father which seeth in secret, and which is in secret.” Well, we’re glad we know the secret of success is success in secret.
We are glad that it is not a secret or a mystery for us anymore, but in verse 4, it speaks about the giving of alms and you would expect to read, “Your Father which seeth in secret,” and in verse 18, he is speaking about fasting, and you would expect to read, “Your Father that seeth in secret,” but in verse 6, he is speaking about prayer and he does not say, “Your Father that heareth in secret,” but your Father which “seeth in secret.” So even when we go to pray, while our words are important of what He hears, what He sees is so much important because your Father which is in secret, He seeth in secret. So in this prayer, he addresses what to say when we pray and our attitude and spirit when we pray.
So it says that we don’t pray on the street corners to be seen of men like the Pharisees. Well, we do not pray on the street corners, but we bring the street corners into our prayer. That beats the question of how wide our prayers circle is in this time of lockdown, instead of being so focused on the daily routine that can keep us occupied. Many of our thoughts and through the help of letters has been reaching out, not only throughout New Zealand but to some with whom we have not been in touch with for a long time but throughout the whole world. It has been good for us to widen our horizons. So we don’t pray on the street corners but we bring the street corners into our prayer. We want to do that so as to widen our horizons. It’s like dropping people into the water and the circles go wider and wider till they are out of sight and how much further they go we don’t know. Prayer is like that.
I have been looking at some photos and all the planes on the runway grounded. All the people traveling all around the world, all of a sudden, a little invisible virus, and there they are! I just estimated it would be over a trillion dollars and worth of hundred thousand aeroplanes and they just grounded. They can’t go anywhere but the Word of God is not bound and prayer is not bound and knows no limits like Jesus prayed 2,000 years ago, “I pray Father that they may be one, as We are.” He said, “I pray not for thee alone – that is the ones that believe on Him – but for all that shall believe on Me through their word.” That prayer uttered 2,000 years ago is just as meaningful and powerful and effective as it was when it was spoken 2,000 years ago. It illustrates the importance and the power in the teaching of prayer and if we are in lockdown, and quite limited now as it is, our prayers know no bounds, and can go to the uttermost parts of the earth. So Jesus said after this manner, “Therefore, pray ye,” and no doubt that was to avoid vain repetition. So I don’t know if you can teach a parrot to remember the prayer, but it might be able to parrot it off without any understanding of the words. So in this prayer Jesus suggests what we might pray, what to say when we pray, and then most importantly our attitude and spirit when we pray. So in this prayer, there are 9 attitudes, and if these attitudes are present when we pray then even if we do not utter a single word, our prayer will be so meaningful. So, I will just like to go through the 9 attitudes.
Our Father which art in Heaven: OUR is the attitude or spirit of UNITY. We understand how important that is. In John 17, maybe that’s what really records the Lord’s prayer. He repeatedly spoke, “I pray that they might be one as We are One.” To think how united in thought and spirit, the Father the Son and the Holy Ghost were. We understand there is a lot of work to do and God loves to see that spirit of unity amongst us.
Our FATHER: FATHER is the attitude of spirit of a little CHILD. For those of us who studied Hosea where the children of Israel were so rebellious and so disobedient, it’s just like a little highlight in Hosea 11:1, “When Israel was a child, then I loved him,” and there is something so beautiful about the simplicity and innocence and purity of a little child.
Our Father which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name, THY KINGDOM COME: That is the attitude and spirit of a CITIZEN, and not a citizen like Jesus spoke about who said to Him, “We will not have this man to rule over us,” but a citizen that says, “Thy Kingdom come.”
THY WILL BE DONE: That’s the attitude and spirit of a SERVANT, and when Jesus came, He thought it not robbery to be equal with God but took upon Him the form of a servant, and became like a man, and flesh like us. Then it tells us in Philemon 2, the first thing that Jesus did when He took upon Him our flesh, it says, “…and being found in the fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient even unto the death of the cross.” So it is not hard for us to understand that our Father that seeth in secret, if He sees this attitude, the spirit of a servant, then even if we don’t say anything, our prayer is going to mean a great deal to Him.
GIVE US this day our daily bread: GIVE US – that’s the attitude or spirit of a BEGGAR. We will never be anything more in the sight of God than a beggar. Like Jesus said, “For without Me, you can do nothing,” and there is nothing that we can do to please God, even if we are taking our first steps in the way of God, or some of our latter steps, we are 100% dependent on God. He loves to see it when we have that attitude of a beggar. I am nothing and I can do nothing. We would like to have more of that spirit.
FORGIVE US: Attitude of a SINNER. Paul has been serving God along time when he called himself the chief of sinners. If we were to regard ourselves as chief of sinners, that would be good and probably not too far off the reality, anyway. We are altogether born in sin and we are dependent on the love and mercy of God every single day.
LEAD US….: That is the attitude of a FOLLOWER. It is in the heart and human nature to be a leader but Jesus said, “Follow me.” If we can understand this: the sinner leads the sinless and the creature the Creator. So, Jesus said, “All power is given unto Me in Heaven and on earth,” and He could have called on 12 legions of angels to deliver Him but He allowed Himself to be led. A picture of wonderful humility. So, if the sinner leads the sinless and the creature the Creator, we can understand that it means so much to our prayers if that spirit is present.
Lead us not in temptation BUT DELIVER US…: Deliver us is the attitude and the spirit of a CAPTIVE.
THINE IS THE KINGDOM, THE POWER AND THE GLORY…forever. Amen: That is the attitude and the spirit of a WORSHIPER. We are created for God’s pleasure purely and so our little motto by which we live every day should be, “For Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory.” I don’t think it is very hard for us to understand that if these attitudes are present, even if we don’t say anything that they will mean so much to God.
Then there is a 10th attitude and that is not asked for, it is not suggested, because that is not the nature of it but that is the attitude of GRATITUDE. That is like the icing on the cake. So, prayer is a wonderful thing, and it has wonderful scope. No doubt you feel like me. I would like to know so much more about the nature and value of prayer, and be found availing myself of it.