The Teaching of Jesus on Prayer – Part 1 of 6
Expanded and Adapted From The HOPE Study Guide
If you wanted to learn how to pray, who would you choose for a teacher? In Matthew 6:9-13, you can find a model prayer given to you by Jesus Himself. It was not given simply to recite, but to teach you how to pray. It has been called “the true pattern for all prayer.” Each verse in this prayer identifies an important dimension of prayer. This is Part 1 of 6.
“OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN, HALLOWED (HOLY) BE THY NAME.” – VERSE 9 (word added)
The starting place for prayer is God Himself. Begin prayer by setting your heart and mind on who God is, rather than on yourself and your circumstances. It will affect everything that follows. Jesus begins His model for prayer by bringing together two truths that seem so opposite it is almost inconceivable they could be spoken in the same breath. God is your Father. He loves you with a passionate, perfect, tender, unconditional love. God is also Holy. His glory and majesty are so intense, that even the host of angels surrounding His throne must cover their eyes and feet so as not to be overcome by His presence (Isaiah 6:2). Prayer involves both extreme intimacy and reverence.
A five–star general, the highest ranking officer in the military, may be known by many people. Most of them stand to attention and salute when he walks by. But his beloved (his wife, his children, etc.) know him intimately and can barge in on him at any time. There are many people who know about God, but as His children, we have direct access to our Father. Through prayer we can enter His throne room at any time …and we can know that He longs for us to be there!
Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba (literally Daddy)! Father!” (Romans 8:15, explanation added).
We have all been created with a profound need to be fathered. For many, that need has never been met. A father is one who protects and provides for his children. With wisdom and love, he guides them and prepares them to flourish in life. God desires to father you. Before reading on, think for a moment what it means to have God, the Holy, All Powerful, Creator and Ruler of everything, as your Father. Respect Him and receive His love.
The above are some summary thoughts on verse 9. To unpack this verse further, consider the following.
1) “Pray, then, in this way . . .”
Matthew 6:9-13, like all of scripture, is “inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness . . .” (2 Timothy 3:16). Thus, it is certainly appropriate to recite or read this passage in our private and public times with God. However, the words in this passage were not meant to be a ritualistic, rote prayer for simple recital. “Pray, then, in this way”. What does the phrase imply? Note that Jesus did not say when you pray, pray these exact words. In verse Matthew 6:7 Jesus warns of meaningless repetition. This teaching is a guide for praying “in this way” or “after this manner”. We are to use this prayer as a pattern for prayer, not as a substitute.
2) “Our Father who is in heaven . . .”
- a) As we approach God, we should first remember that His love and character are that of a perfect Father. Just try to fathom the depths of that truth. You can’t. It will take an eternity to even begin to explore and experience the full meaning of this truth. This is the One to whom you are praying.
- b) “Our” Father. Millions of His children are communication with Him at the same time, and He is completely engaged with each one of them. God is amazing. This is the One to whom you are praying.
- c) Our Father is in heaven. From a human standpoint, heaven is indescribable.
1Co 2:9 but just as it is written, “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.”
2 Co 12 – 3 And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— 4was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.
Where are you right now? What are your surroundings? What is your circumstance? Our Father is in heaven. This is where you will find the One to whom you are praying. This is the location of your conversation with God. As His child, this is where you are headed. This is your real home. Think about that as you pray.
3) “Hallowed be Your name.”
“Hallowed” comes from the Greek word “hagiazo” (hagios), which means set apart, holy, and sanctified. It is the opposite of the Greek word “koinos”, which means common. This phrase is acknowledging that God is above, beyond and unlike any other. Just think on His attributes; eternal, faithful, good, holy, unchangeable, incomprehensible, infinite, just, longsuffering, loving, merciful, all-powerful, all-knowing, omnipresent, righteous, self-existent, self-sufficient, sovereign, transcendent, true and the source of all wisdom. This phrase teaches we are to hold His Name in reverence and thus to honor, glorify, and exalt Him for His name speaks of His person and character.