By T.M. Anderson
"After this manner therefore pray ye." (Matthew 6:9-15)
The Lord's prayer is not a form of prayer, it is a pattern of prayer. The manner of our praying will follow this pattern of praying if we ask according to the instructions of Jesus. The prayer proceeds in an orderly manner from the opening words to the final Amen. There is perfect continuity in the prayer; it begins with worship and ends with praise.
The prayer follows the Savior's words, "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him;" and embraces in its scope every need of man. If we offer the words of this prayer in humility and sincerity, we have a right to expect our Heavenly Father to answer the petition, and supply our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Therefore let us come with confidence before our Father and make our requests known to Him.
"Our Father which art in Heaven."
It has been stated that the secret place of prayer is in the heart of the worshiper; but the opening words of the Lord's prayer are addressed to "Our Father which art in heaven." There is no contradiction in the truth, for we know that the secret prayers of our hearts are spoken humbly to our Heavenly Father. There is no dividing line between a holy heart and a holy heaven; the Everlasting Father dwells in our hearts, and He dwells in heaven.
When we say "Our Father which art in heaven," we must have in mind that there is a throne of grace where we can come with boldness, and obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. I am convinced that no one can pray intelligently without first knowing the needs of his own heart, and knowing where the place of prayer is established.
I asked a preacher to give me his concept of praying. He said that he conceived of God being a Great Spirit everywhere present, and that he prayed with this thought in mind. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. But one cannot say "Our Father which art in heaven," if He is everywhere in general. Obviously this is not the concept of praying to the Father which Jesus reveals in the pattern of prayer. The Scriptures reveal the proper concept of approaching God in prayer. We see it prefigured in the ritualistic law of Israel's' worship. The Lord dwelt in the most holy place in the temple. The high priest entered this sacred place once each year, and offered the blood of the sacrifice for the sins of the people, and prayed for them before the Lord.
We also know that when the people prayed they looked toward the temple where the Lord dwelt, and prayed facing the most holy place. The people dwelling in strange lands where they had been led captives, prayed with their faces turned toward Jerusalem, where the temple was located.
In the covenant of grace we have a Great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God. He is the only Mediator between God and man; and He is seated on His mediatorial throne at the right hand of God.
We must follow the pattern of the worshipers in Israel, and turn our faces toward heaven, where Christ is seated on His mediatorial throne at the right hand of the Father. When we say, "Our Father which art in heaven, we should have a mental picture of these facts as revealed in the plan of Salvation.
I find it impossible to pray in faith until I have first formed a mental image of these fundamental facts. I must envision the Savior seated on His mediatorial throne to have a basis for praying in faith. I must see Him in the office of the Great High Priest before I can ask for the things I need.
The place of the Savior at the right hand of God is not fiction; neither is it a figure of speech. It is the abiding truth revealed in the infallible Word of God. The plan of salvation is a reality, and not a ritual. I cannot conceive of Jesus being in any place in the plan of salvation except at the right hand of the Father performing the work of the High Priest of our profession.
I consider it necessary to emphasize these fundamental truths to show that, "Our Father which art in heaven," is not in some remote place far removed from us; but that He is in a place where we can see Him with the eyes of our understanding, and turn our faces toward Him in prayer, and be heard.
"Hallowed be thy name."
Prayer is a part of worship, it approaches the Heavenly Father with a true spirit of reverence and respect for His Name. Prayer recognizes the Holiness of the Father, and the sanctity of His Presence. coming boldly to the throne of grace does not extend to any one the right to be irreverent in his approach to God.
To worship the Lord at the beginning of prayer will be rewarded by His blessing and a conscious sense of His pleasure. If one prays thirty minutes, he will be richly benefited in spirit if he will worship the Lord at least one half the time of praying. It is a part of prayerful worship to make love to the Savior. He is pleased to have us tell Him of our love; and it pleases Him to have us say that we love Him because of what He is in His Adorable Person. Let the Savior hear you say that you are not following Him because of the things received from Him; tell Him that he is all, and in all to you in time and eternity. If you are sincere in you praise, you are sincere in your prayers.
Prayer is offered in the Name of the Savior, and prayer should recognize the meaning of the Name of the Savior. I find and unutterable joy to my own soul to recall the Names of the Lord recorded in the Scriptures. These Names have great meaning, because they reveal certain qualities of the Nature of the Lord. For an example, consider the Name, Almighty God. We can see at once that this Name reveals the unlimited power of God; and assures us that this invincible power is supporting our faith and hope for eternal life. The Lord said to Moses, "I AM THAT I AM," denoting Eternal Existence, and an Eternal Presence with His people. The prophet called Him Immanuel, which means, "God with us." The Name of Jesus Christ the Son of God is precious to the praying saints. His Name is Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Hallowed be Thy Name, Thou Blessed Son of God. Thy Name is above every Name, for Thou art The King of kings, and Lord of lords. Thou art the Holy One, The Amen, and the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and Omega, the first Cause, the fixed center, and the final conclusion of all creation. In thee we live, and move, and have our being. "Hallowed be Thy Name," in the heavens above, and in the earth, which is Thy footstool.
"Thy Kingdom come."
The prayer brings us to recognize our need of the government of Almighty God. Prayer will bring our souls into perfect submission to the Sovereignty of God; and we will never question His right to reign over us in Supreme Authority.
The soul of man is one place where the Lord does not reign as King. All men have been created with the right of free will, and the power of choice. A man can accept the kingdom of God or reject it, and God will respect the right of man's choice. When we say, "Thy kingdom come," we state our choice to be governed by the Heavenly Father. When we say these words, we must yield the throne of our self-government to the Father, and give Him the undisputed authority to rule over our lives. If we say "Thy kingdom come," we must issue an invitation in prayer for the Lord to enter our hearts, and extend His Eternal Kingdom to include all that we are in body, and soul, mind and strength.
"Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."
The Lord's prayer shows the need of man to be in obedience to the will of God. Prayer brings the will into complete conformity with. the Divine will, and links heave and earth in a oneness of spiritual relationship. When the will of man is in perfect accord with the will of God, his obedience on the earth will be like the obedience rendered in heaven. The willingness of the man to serve the Lord, and his purpose to please Him, will equal that of the angels in heaven.
We have no basis for believing that our Heavenly Father will answer prayer, and give us the things we need, unless we sincerely say "Thy will be done."
The pattern prayer asks for harmony with the will of God for all time to come. The days ahead may bring poverty and privation, trials and troubles, nevertheless, "Thy will be done.'
The Father's will can mean sacrifice and suffering, for it presents the cross to us. There is no escape from the sufferings of the cross; there is no crown without a cross. When we offer the Lord's prayer we agree to all that the will of God contains for the present, and for the future: to refuse is to perish; but to yield means eternal life.
"Give us this day our daily bread."
Jesus discloses the fact that the worship of God is first in the order of the pattern prayer; and that we must say, "Thy Name," and "Thy Kingdom," and "Thy Will," before we can ask for our daily bread. We must recognize the Giver before we request the gift.
We frequently present our wants before we prayerfully worship. We pray about our needs, and forget to pray in His Name.
Our Father is not unmindful of our need of daily bread. This fact is vividly shown by the Savior's interest in the needs of His disciples. They could not forget the morning He stood on the shore of the sea, and said, "Children, have ye any meat?" He had compassion on them in the time of need; He fed them when they were hungry, and blessed their labors with a miracle. The same loving Jesus told us to ask the Heavenly Father for our daily bread.
The prayer does not imply that the supply of bread will be greater than our daily requirement. But if the goodness of God grants us an abundance, and gives us security against a future want; let us not turn our hearts away from Him.
"If riches increase, set not your heart upon them." (Psalm 62:10)
When one devotes so much time and effort to earn his daily bread, and neglects to pray and worship God, that man will suffer impoverishment of soul. To do this to the hurt of the soul is evil in the sight of the Lord. In this age of strife and selfishness, we can become slaves to our tasks, and allow our temporal needs to over shadow our spiritual needs. By all means, let us keep the worship of the Lord in the first place, and not seek earthly things more than we seek eternal things Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added.
"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."
The pattern prayer brings us to a recognition of our indebtedness to our Heavenly Father. We have a moral obligation that must be settled by prayer. We have incurred the displeasure of God by transgressing His law, for sin is a transgression of the law. We have no merits to plead; and no money to pay the obligation. But our gracious Heavenly Father is willing to forgive us our debts; He does not ask us to pay, He only asks us to pray.
Our forgiveness is conditional: we must forgive our debtors, before God will forgive our debts. Our Lord said, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you."
There is no pardon for the person that will not grant a pardon; there is no answer to the prayer of the man who will not forgive.
"Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
Our Heavenly Father knows that we have need of protection, and has enabling grace to preserve His people in the hour of temptation.
We are not to assume that we will not be carried into temptation; we must ask the Father to provide a way of escape when we are tempted. I have no fear of the Lord leading me into temptation without a purpose; but I am afraid of becoming careless and failing to watch and pray, and as a result, be overcome by temptation. We are safe as long as we pray, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
"For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen"
Indeed we ascribe all the praise, and glory to Our Heavenly Father, and to the Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave us the pattern of prayer.