21 Days of Prayer and Fasting - Day 9
Matthew 6:9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name . . .’”
In what is popularly known as the “Sermon on the Mount,” one of the most known segments is Jesus’ teaching on prayer recorded in Matthew 6:9-13. It is sometimes referred to as the “Lord’s Prayer” or the “Our Father.” Most importantly, it is Jesus’ most concise demonstration of how to pray recorded in the gospels.
When approaching the subject of the practice of prayer Jesus provides a model, demonstration, or illustration; and not just a command to do it. Jesus is sharing the way in which He approaches prayer, and the way in which His followers are invited to practice prayer.
Also, Jesus did not intend on this prayer to merely be repeated verbatim, but rather to be a framework for the practice of prayer. We can interact with it, move within it, and utilize it as a template for engaging in prayer.
For today, let’s take a look at how Jesus taught us to begin in our approach to prayer. His opening introduction is “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”
As I mentioned in the introduction to the practice of prayer, it is communicating and communing with God. Prayer is not a practice involving only yourself. I know that seems obvious and apparent. However, often we can slip into a place in which we forget that prayer is not the end. It is a practice of engaging with God. There is no such thing as prayer without God. At least not prayer according to Jesus.
Jesus taught us how to not just approach prayer, but how to approach God. There is an invitation to approach God as our Father in heaven. For many of you, that is normal, common thought. However, that is an overwhelmingly powerful invitation. When Jesus introduced this as a demonstration of prayer, it was revolutionary. Jesus invites us into a relationship with God as Father, who is close and caring, near and knowable, familiar and family. When we pray, we step into being reminded of who God is, and the privilege of calling Him Father.
While the thought of God as Father can feel amazingly intimate and inviting, it is also important to consider that God’s name is “hallowed.” That’s probably not a word in your everyday vocabulary. It means “holy” or “set apart.” In regards to God, it refers to God being “other.” God is altogether “other” and different from humanity. God is higher, more majestic, great and greatly to be praised. The practice of prayer invites us to step into the presence of a loving Father, who is also holy and worthy of honor. Each time we pray, we are reminded of the nature and character of God. Sometimes in prayer, we may even just stop here and hallow God’s name. Just pause and be in awe of God. Adore. Worship. Praise. Honor. God is our Father, and hallowed is His name.
In Jesus' demonstration of prayer, we not only see a glimpse of who God is, but we also get to see ourselves more clearly. We are children of God. That entails so much more than just a cliche declaration. That means that you have access to God, inheritance from God, relationship with God, and more good gifts from your perfect, heavenly Father. Each time we practice prayer, as Jesus-followers, we get to step into a reminder of our identity and ultimate reality.
Notice one more time how Jesus begins the prayer: “Our Father.” Let’s not miss that it begins with “our” and not just “my.” There are examples in the Scriptures, especially in the Psalms, of calling out to “my God,” which is amazing. However, when Jesus selects a word here in this demonstration, He selects “our.” You are not on a solo journey. It is important, even in prayer, for us to set ourselves in the larger picture of the family of God. It comforts us, and challenges us to be mindful of others.
The practice of prayer helps us to be restored, moment by moment, by being reminded that God is our Father, we are His children, and we are to hallow His name.
How does considering God as “Our Father” shape and form how you pray?
Take a moment to “hallow” God’s name either silently, verbally, or through writing.