“Our Father Which Art In Heaven, Hallowed Be Thy Name” Part I

"Our Father Which Art In Heaven, Hallowed Be Thy Name". (Part I)

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


CHAPTER 1 – OUTLINE

SUBJECT: Pray This Way – "Our Father Which Art In Heaven, Hallowed Be Thy Name". (Part I)

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6:9-13

TEXT: "Our Father in heaven let your name be held holy." (Matthew 6:9)

INTRODUCTION:

It is not a child's prayer and it is not primarily a Family Prayer. Rather, it is a disciple's prayer which must be repeated with great earnestness and understanding.

PROPOSITION:

In this message we shall look at the first two words in the prayer – OUR FATHER. These two words – Our Father – tell us two things about God – God's love and God's Family.

I. "FATHER REMINDS US OF GOD'S LOVE.

A. To call God 'Father' Gives Us A Right Relationship With The Unseen World.

B. To Call God 'Father' Gives Us A Right Relationship With The Seen World.

II. "OUR REMINDS US OF GOD'S FAMILY.

A. We Find God Through Service To Others.

B. We Find Ourselves Through Service To Others.

CONCLUSION:

The Beneficent Father wills only good for His children, even if that good is found in circumstances that appear to be unexplainable.

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"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


CHAPTER 1

SUBJECT: Pray This Way – "Our Father Which Art In Heaven, Hallowed Be Thy Name". (Part I)

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6:9-13

TEXT: "Our Father in heaven let your name be held holy." (Matthew 6:9)

INTRODUCTION:

In considering The Lord's Prayer, it is important to realize that this prayer is a prayer which only a Christian disciple can properly appreciate. This prayer was given by Jesus to His disciples and is therefore really a disciple's prayer. It is not a child's prayer and it is not primarily a Family Prayer. Rather, it is a disciple's prayer which must be repeated with great earnestness and understanding.

How often people have repeated this prayer glibly with no real thought or understanding as they repeated it. Anyone can repeat this prayer but only a Christian can repeat this prayer with meaning. Some people recite the Lord's Prayer like they recite the twenty-third Psalm. Some people are skilled in expression but are cold in heart, and dull in understanding.

"There is a famous story which tells how a company of people were dining together one evening. After dinner it was agreed that each one should recite something. A well- known actor rose and, with all the resources of oratory and elocution and dramatic art, he declaimed the twenty-third Psalm and sat down to tremendous applause. A quiet and silent man followed him. He too began to recite the twenty-third Psalm and at first there was rather a titter of laughter. But before he had ended there was a stillness that was more eloquent than any applause. When he had spoken the last words there was a silence, and then the actor leant across and said, "Sir, I know the Psalm, but you know the shepherd.'" (Barclay's Corinthians, p. 276) This prayer which we are going to study must be repeated only by those who know the Shepherd, for it is only in knowing the Shepherd, that one can understand the significance of the prayer.

PROPOSITION:

Let us now proceed with a detailed study of the prayer. In this message we shall look at the first two words in the prayer – OUR FATHER. We shall spend most of our time in consideration of the meaning and implication of 'Father', but we will also in more brevity consider the meaning of 'Our'. (These two words – Our Father – tell us two things about God – God's love and God's Family).

I. 'FATHER' REMINDS US OF GOD'S LOVE.

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The very expression 'father' usually reminds a child of protection and love, although this is not always true in the human realm. In the spiritual realm, however, the expression 'Father' is meant to always remind us of God's love.

A. To Call God 'Father' Gives Us A Right Relationship With The Unseen World. (Barclay's Matthew 20)

A question that many people want answered is this: "Is this a friendly universe"? There are many cynical and despairing philosophers who consider man a victim of fate living on the outer fringes of a hostile universe. Many consider Mencken's impious creed to be true: "The universe, a gigantic wheel in rapid revolution; man, a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on the rim thereof; religion, the fly's delusion that the wheel was constructed to give him the ride." The atheistic philosopher Bertrand Russell considers man the subject of a pitiless doom. He says, "Brief and powerless is man's life. On him and his entire race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark. Blind to good and evil, reckless of destruction, omnipotent matter rolls on its relentless way." (The Word of The Lord Came Unto Me Also; p. 128)

Jesus came to tell us that this universe is essentially a friendly universe. Jesus showed us that God is love. What Jesus is, God has always been. That means that God has always been a God of love. It is a mistaken idea to think for instance, that the God of the Old Testament was a God of Hate and Vengeance and therefore Jesus came to change God's mind and appease His wrath. If the God of the Old Testament appears to be a God of wrath, it is because man's conception of God was imperfect. It is not God who has changed. He has always been the same – a God of love. It is man's conception of God that has matured. The chief cause for the maturity of man's conception of God was the coming of Christ to earth. Christ came to show us what God is and always has been – a God of love. Christ showed man how great God's love is. Christ showed man that God's love is so great that He can be called 'Father'. That means that God is not far removed and unconcerned for man. Because God's heart is a Father's heart, man can approach Him in confidence and love.

Barclay cites the following illustration in his commentary. "There is an old Roman story which tells how a Roman Emperor was enjoying a triumph. He had the privilege which Rome gave to her great victors, of marching his troops through the streets of Rome with all his captured trophies and his prisoners in his train. So the Emperor was on the march with his troops. The streets were lined with cheering people. The tall legionaries lined the street's edges to keep the people in their places. At one point on the triumphal route there was a little platform where the Empress and her family were sitting to watch the Emperor go by in all the pride of his triumph. On the platform with his mother there was the Emperor's youngest son, a little boy. As the Emperor came near the little

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boy jumped off the platform, burrowed through the crowd, tried to dodge between the legs of a legionary, and to run out on to the road to meet his father's chariot. The legionary stooped down and stopped him and he swung him up in his arms: 'You can't do that, boy,' he said. 'Don't you know who that is in the chariot? That's the Emperor. You can't run out to his chariot.' And the little lad laughed down. 'He may be your Emperor,' he said, 'but he's my father.' That is exactly the way in which the Christian feels towards God. The might, and the majesty, and the power are the might, and the majesty, and the power of one whom Jesus Christ taught us to call Our Father." (Matthew 202)

How different is the Christian's God from the myriad of heathen Gods. The God of the Christians is trustworthy, beneficent, and loving. The heathen Gods are pitiless, grudging, and hateful. It is oftentimes a great relief for a pagan worshipper to learn that there is only one true God who is not wrathful and grudging but who is loving and caring. Jesus came to show us that the unseen world which is controlled by God is not against us but that it is for us.

B. To Call God 'Father' Gives Us A Right Relationship With The Seen World.

Not only has Jesus shown us that we are living in a friendly universe, but Jesus has shown us that the Christian is living in a friendly world. How is this possible? It is because Jesus has shown us that all circumstances can be used for God's glory and man's good.

Because Christ was God and has visited man, He understands the human situation. "For in that He (Christ) Himself was tried and suffered, He is able to help those who are undergoing trial." (Barclay's Hebrews 2:18)

"Foster in one of his books tells a thing. He came into his home in this country one day in the thirties to find his daughter in tears before the radio set. He asked her why. He found that the news bulletin that day had contained one sentence – 'Japanese tanks entered Canton to-day!' Most people must have heard that with at the most a faint feeling of regret. Statesmen may have heard it with a feeling of grim foreboding. But to most people it did not make so very much difference. Why then was John Foster's daughter in tears? Because she had been born in Canton. To her Canton meant a home, a nurse, school friends, a well-loved place. The difference was that she had been there. When you have been there it makes all the difference. And there is no part of human experience of which God cannot say: 'I have been there.' When we have a sad and sorry tale to tell, when life has drenched us with the tears of things, we do not go to a God who is quite incapable of understanding what has happened to us; we go to a God who has been there." (Barclay's Hebrews; pgs. 40, 41)

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Because the Christian is serving a God of love, he is enabled to accept even unpleasant things with submission. For instance the Christian can look at pain as not being altogether bad. Pain can be good since it warns us that our body needs attention. Kagawa, a great Japanese Christian who experienced considerable pain, looked at pain optimistically. Says Kagawa, "There are three kinds of people who do not feel pain: the crazy, feeble-minded, intoxicated. So when you complain about pain you may rejoice that you are not one of these." (Kagawa, Japanese Prophet by Trout; p. 52) Sorrow also can be good, since it can draw us nearer to God. One who has experienced sorrow is better equipped truly to sympathize with his fellowmen. After one man told how his mother had lost her dearest son, he says, "That is where my mother got her soft eyes and why other mothers ran to her when they had lost a child." (Barclay's Corinthians; p. 191) Because God became a man, He understands all about us.

Because God is love, we can even accept the unexplainable things of life without becoming bitter. Says Barclay about these unexplainable things of life: "Into life for everyone at some time there comes something for which there seems to be no reason, something which passes comprehension and something which defies explanation. It is then that a man is faced with life's hardest battle – the battle to accept when he cannot understand. At such a time there is only one thing to do – to submit, to accept, to obey; and to do so without resentment and without rebellion, saying: 'God, Thou art love! I build my faith on that.'" Barclay's Hebrews; p. 173)

A London minister tells about a father whose son was fighting in France. "At our prayer meeting," said the pastor, "he would earnestly pray that God would hide that soldier son beneath His wings. He once added with deep tenderness, 'The bullet was never made that can pierce Thy wings'. But the boy was killed all the same." This appears to be an unexplainable happening that seems to defy understanding. It is at such times that faith is most severely tested. George Tyrell once boldly said: "To believe that this terrible machine world is really from God, in God, and unto God, and that through it and in spite of its blind fatality all works for good – that is faith in long trousers." (Paul Rees; Prayer and Life's Highest; p. 95)

Realizing that God is love will enable one to meet the circumstances of life – even those that are unexplainable – and will save one from cynicism, and despair. It is a great comfort to know that God is Father, and a loving father will never cause his child a needless tear.

II. 'OUR' REMINDS US OF GOD'S FAMILY.

Barclay says about this part of the prayer, "If God is Father, He is Father of all men. The Lord's Prayer does not teach us to pray My Father; it teaches us to pray Our

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Father. It is very significant that in the Lord's Prayer the word I, me, my, and mine, never occur; it is true to say that Jesus came to take these words out of life and to put in their place we, us, and ours. God is not any man's exclusive possession. The very phrase Our Father involves the elimination of self. The fatherhood of God is the only possible basis of the brotherhood of man." (Barclay's Matthew; vol. 1, p. 202)

When we pray 'Our Father', we are reminded that we are members of a family and that we have brothers and sisters to love. We are reminded that life consists in serving others and not in being served.

A. We Find God Through Service To Others.

It is true that a Christian can never advocate a solitary religion. No Christian desires to go to heaven without taking others with him. We cannot be interested in God without being interested in our fellowmen. We cannot love the invisible God without truly loving our visible brothers. "It is this command that we have from Him, that he who loves God, loves his brother also." (1 John 4:21) In fact, we actually find God through doing service to others. In Ernest Crosby's poem "The Search" he says;

"No one could tell me where my soul might be; 
I sought for God, but God eluded me; 
I sought my brother out and found all three."

Barclay relates the following story. "Edgerton Young was the first missionary to the Red Indians. In Saskatchewan he went out to find them and he told them of the love of God, the Father. To the Indians it was like a new revelation. When the missionary had told his message, an old chief said: 'When you spoke of the great Spirit just now, did I hear you say, "Our Father"?' 'Yes', said Edgerton Young. 'That is very new and sweet to me', said the chief. 'We never thought of the great Spirit as Father. We heard Him in the thunder; we saw Him in the lightning, the tempest and the blizzard, and we were afraid. So when you tell us that the great Spirit is our Father that is very beautiful to us.' The old man paused, and then he went on, as a glimpse of glory suddenly shone on him. 'Missionary, did you say that the great Spirit is your Father?' 'Yes,' said the missionary. 'And', said the chief, 'did you say that He is the Indians' Father?' 'I did' said the missionary. 'Then', said the old chief, like a man on whom a dawn of joy had burst, 'you and I are brothers!' The only possible unity for men is in their common sonship with God." (Barclay's John; vol. 2; pgs. 74, 75)

B. We Find Ourselves Through Service To Others.

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Preoccupation with self and selfish interests is one of the biggest problems we face. To serve others will save us from physical, psychological, and spiritual problems.

Someone once asked Dr. Karl Menninger what he would advise a person to do if he felt a nervous breakdown coming on. His answer was surprising to some, but very sound: "If you feel a nervous breakdown coming on, lock up your house, go across the railway tracks and find someone in need and do something for him." (Prayer and Life's Highest; p. 55) Involvement in other people's problems oftentimes offers therapeutic cure to one's own needs.

When Kagawa was young he was told that he would die, but the doctors were wrong. He lived past seventy, and the explanation for his extended life lies in his involvement in other people's problems. Says Kagawa, "When I suffered from tuberculosis I thought I was dying so I decided to do some good before I died. That is the reason I entered the slums. I thought if I went to heaven and confessed that I was lazy on the earth, God would say to me, 'No place for you.' … In the slums, I had no door. I had the 'open-air cure', and it cured me of tuberculosis. It is interesting that because I lived in the slums I was cured of my sickness. I had improvement of health and I am here tonight. This way of cure I always recommend to my friends in Japan who are suffering from tuberculosis." (Trout; Kagawa, Japanese Prophet; pgs. 51, 52) Healing sometimes comes through involvement. To pray 'Our Father' should remind us that we are our brothers' keeper. To render service to others enables us to find God and enables us to find ourselves.

CONCLUSION:

To pray 'Our Father' means that we are acknowledging God's love and also acknowledging God's family. This reminds us of God's Fatherhood and reminds us of man's brotherhood.

Because God is 'Father' His children can be confident that they live in a friendly universe and also a friendly world. The Beneficent Father wills only good for His children, even if that good is found in circumstances that appear to be unexplainable.

Membership in God's family assumes responsibility and involvement in the needs of one's fellow brothers and sisters. We find God and we find ourselves through involvement and service to others.

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